Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane facilitated the use of part of Bosasa’s call centre for the West Rand ANC to campaign for the 2014 general elections, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard on Wednesday.
Bosasa’s former fleet manager and buyer – Frans Vorster – detailed how CEO Gavin Watson insisted that Mokonyane be prioritised and her needs fulfilled by the company, now known as African Global Operations.
At the time, Mokonyane was premier of Gauteng. A staunch supporter of former president Jacob Zuma, Mokonyane was at the helm in the province from May 2009 until May 20, 2014, after which she was appointed water and sanitation minister. Mokonyane was “very important” to Bosasa management, said Vorster.
“I was told she had important political connections, both in the [former president Thabo] Mbeki era and Jacob Zuma. We were instructed to drop everything when it came to Mokonyane … she probably opened doors for Watson because, whatever she wanted, we jumped and dropped everything to attend to the minister and her family,” said Vorster.
In 2014, executives Joe Gumede, Papa Leshabane and Watson asked Vorster to prepare the unutilised portion of the Bosasa call centre for use by a group of ANC members.
“We were instructed to prepare it for the ANC to run a call centre for the general elections. Our information technology department set up computers, desks and phone lines for the ANC group. About 20 to 25 people arrived to man the centre. Minister Mokonyane personally drove that process,” said Vorster.
Kgwerano Financial Services, a subsidiary of Bosasa, footed the bill for the ANC’s use of the call centre, including three meals a day for two weeks, said Vorster.
After the elections, a huge marquee was erected in the Bosasa parking lot to celebrate the ANC’s win at the polls.
“After the elections, the ANC did not vacate immediately. That marquee was handled by Alistair Gavin, a general manager of the Bosasa office park. The marquee, food, renting of cutlery and everything else was paid for by Bosasa. Gavin handled that operation, it was a function for about 400 people,” he said.
Vorster corroborated former chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi’s testimony that the company was also asked several times to hire vehicles for Mokonyane’s daughter. Vorster said he received a call from Watson in late 2015 to hire a cabriolet for the daughter in December.
“I was to hire the vehicle in my name … so that it could not be traced to Mokonyane’s daughter. I pretended I would be driving the vehicle … it was a mission to find a cabriolet and I informed Watson and asked if we could get a luxury car instead, so we hired an Audi A3. I delivered the vehicle to Nomvula Mokonyane’s home in Krugersdorp,” he said.
When it was time to return the vehicle, Mokonyane’s daughter asked for an extension until January 2016, which was granted. When the vehicle was finally returned after January, Vorster said he realised that it was damaged at the back. Watson was annoyed when he informed him, said Vorster.
“I filled in forms at the vehicle rental agency, stating that I bumped the vehicle while trying to reverse. The cost of the extended car lease plus the excess to fix the damage was very high, at nearly R100,000. The bill was paid by Bosasa.”
– African News Agency (ANA)