News of R1m cash donation would have been leaked had we revealed it — Mabuyakhulu

Former ANC KwaZulu-Natal treasurer Mike Mabuyakhulu testified at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday. File picture
Former ANC KwaZulu-Natal treasurer Mike Mabuyakhulu testified at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday. File picture
Image: Tebogo Letsie

Fear of a news leak about the R1m donated to the KwaZulu-Natal ANC is one of the reasons the money was never publicly revealed to other ANC members nor recorded in the party’s bank records, said former provincial treasurer Mike Mabuyakhulu.

Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday evening, Mabuyakhulu said donations to party coffers were one of the sensitive issues that could not be revealed to everyone within the ANC, but were only reported verbally to the top leadership, which included former ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize.  

Mkhize has confirmed through an affidavit to the inquiry that he is aware of the controversial R1m donation. It was made to the ANC 13 years ago by businessman Gaston Savoy.

In virtual testimony, Mabuyakhulu said the money was not banked because the cash-strapped party used it to pay for preparations for the 2008 KwaZulu-Natal provincial elective conference.

He told the inquiry’s chairperson, deputy justice Raymond Zondo, the party had discussed some of its matters only verbally. Sensitive information included individual donations and their circulation, banking matters, legal matters and liabilities. The ANC had in the past learnt the hard way when confidential matters were aired in public.

“That conference had more 3,600 delegates. It was a huge meeting. In keeping with what I’ve said previously, we would not report on individual donations, except that we would do so to the leadership. Here I raise issues such as the banking situation and bank statements of the ANC because that information would have immediately leaked.

“These are matters about which you wouldn’t go into specific details in a huge meeting as that would cause difficulties. But the leadership would know about the donations, and that is officials. You brief them because there is collective leadership at that level.

“That is why Dr Mkhize is saying he knew about this donation because I had reported it as a provincial treasurer. Officials were the ones you take into confidence. You wouldn’t go into an open meeting and report these issues because they would leak,” he said.

Mabuyakhulu, who has heeded the party’s step-aside policy by leaving his position as deputy provincial chairperson while he faces criminal charges, appeared before the inquiry after testimony from forensic auditor Trevor White regarding the R1m donation which had allegedly been paid by a Uruguayan businessman, through former Ithala Bank boss Sipho Shabalala, to the ANC, allegedly in exchange for a provincial water-purification tender.

White, a PwC forensic investigator, found in his investigation into the contract, awarded to Savoy’s company Intaka, that due process was not followed. According to his findings, this was because Intaka had donated R1m to the ANC, via Shabalala, a finding Mabuyakhulu disputes.

Mabuyakhulu testified the money never went through a bank as the party lacked funds and was under pressure to pay suppliers ahead of the conference. He also told the inquiry some donors were not willing to have their names disclosed.

“There are two processes to be followed. The first is that you would have donors who were not willing to be acknowledged and you have to respect that. Then you would have donors who want to be acknowledged. Some donors would have put money into the fundraising account. It was all at the discretion of donors at the time what route made them comfortable.

“I did say during my previous appearance that we handled the issue of donors in a particular manner because we were sensitive that kind of information needed to be treated in a manner that would not be presented to anyone. For that reason I think it would be fair for me to report ... that we were dealing with these matters as a treasury at the time.”

While admitting to receiving the R1m cash from Shabalala, which he locked in a safe in his office, Mabuyakhulu said he didn’t know the money was donated by Savoy.

He also denied he had discussions with Sibusisiwe Ngubane-Zulu of Ngubane and Wills Inc, who linked Mabuyakhulu to Savoy.

In her affidavit Ngubane-Zulu said she was told by Mabuyakhulu the money was donated by Savoy, but in her testimony at the inquiry on Monday she backtracked and said she was not sure if it was Mabuyakhulu or former ANC financial manager in KwaZulu-Natal, Delani Mzila, who told her about the donation link to Savoy.

Mabuyakhulu said he had no recollection of meeting or having discussions with Ngubane-Zulu even though he consulted with her law firm regarding a police investigation into the controversial donation.

Ngubane-Zulu testified Mzila was made a deponent in the matter, which Mabuyakhule denied being part of, arguing there was no way he could instruct an attorney to write an affidavit on behalf of someone who had no knowledge of such affidavit.

“I have already mentioned I have no recollection of meeting with Ms Ngubane-Zulu. What is factual is that at some point when I was made aware of the investigation it is then I met with Mr John Mills (Ngubane-Zulu’s business partner).”

Mabuyakhulu also said he couldn’t recall whether KwaZulu-Natal ANC heavyweight Senzo Mchunu arranged the meeting between himself and Ngubane-Zulu’s law firm.

“I can’t remember who approached me, but I can’t deny it was Mr Mchunu.”

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