Former Bosasa executive says company paid cash bribes to Jacob Zuma
CEO of firm accused of corruption allegedly hand-delivered bribe to former SA president
Angelo Agrizzi, Former COO of Bosasa, testifies at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg. Photograph: Wikus de Wet/AFP/Getty Images
Former South African president Jacob Zuma received a cash bribe in person from the CEO of a multibillion-rand facilities company accused of public sector corruption, an official inquiry has heard.
On Monday, Bosasa’s former chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi alleged that his boss, Gavin Watson, hand-delivered the bribe to Mr Zuma at his rural home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province, where the company’s CEO often met him while he was president.
Mr Zuma was forced from office in February 2018 by the ruling African National Congress party after nine years in power.
Mr Agrizzi claimed Mr Watson said he wanted to make the payment personally because he was worried that monthly payments intended for Mr Zuma made to his ally, former South African Airways chairwoman Dudu Myeni, were not being passed on to him.
Ms Myeni is chairwoman of the Jacob Zuma Foundation and a close friend of Mr Zuma’s, and, according to Mr Agrizzi, she facilitated meetings with the president.
“He [Watson] personally delivered it to Jacob Zuma, put the bag [of money] next to him and asked him the question, ‘Does Dudu give you your money every month?’ And his answer was ‘yes’,” Mr Agrizzi told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Corruption, and Fraud in the Public Sector.
Earlier on Monday, Mr Agrizzi said he physically prepared monthly cash payments of 300,000 South African rand (€19,250) from Bosasa to Ms Myeni that were allegedly for the Jacob Zuma Foundation.
However, Mr Agrizzi told the commission he did not believe Mr Zuma’s charity was the end beneficiary of the payments, but rather they were intended for the former president himself. However, he clarified he had no proof of this.
“Surely if it was for the foundation it would be [sent] via EFT,” he said referring to electronic funds transfer, adding: “Maybe it was for a foundation but why would you want it in cash?”
In return for the Bosasa payments, Mr Zuma was accused of using his influence as president to implement legislative changes in different business sectors. He also tried to undermine official investigations into the controversial company, said Mr Agrizzi.
In relation to South Africa’s mining and gas legislation, Mr Agrizzi claimed that in 2016 Mr Watson wanted to persuade Mr Zuma to have changes made to facilitate a fracking project in the Northern Cape Province.
As Mr Agrizzi’s testimony unfolded on Monday, TV news broadcaster eNCA claimed that Ms Myeni sent the station a text saying she was innocent of the allegations and that Mr Agrizzi “is lying, his greed is worrisome”.
Mr Agrizzi was unveiled as a surprise witness at the inquiry on January 16th, and since then his explosive testimony about Bosasa’s alleged corrupt relationship with up to 80 ruling party and public sector officials has sent shock waves across South African society.
Bosasa has recently been renamed African Global Operations. Mr Agrizzi claims the company used corruption and bribery to win every single public sector tender it was awarded during his 19 years with the firm. He left the company in 2016.
Mr Agrizzi will continue his testimony on Tuesday.