Reports that the Gwede Mantashe Foundation may be involved in money laundering must be fully investigated and the Minister’s role in this scandal clarified. According to the reports, a Bidvest subsidiary, Voltex, allegedly made a number of dubious payments to Ntlokholo Investments, a company of which the Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation, Caswell Mokoena, was a director. While this in itself would not be unorthodox, the problem arises in that at least one of the payments, for an amount of R935 000, was intended as a donation to the Foundation, and was receipted by the foundation as such.
Further muddying the waters is the fact that another Bidvest subsidiary, RoyalMnandi Duduza, was the beneficiary of a catering contract in excess of R600 million to feed workers constructing the Medupi and Khusile power stations. Mantashe’s wife, Nolwandle Mantashe, was a director of RoyalMnandi. Minister Mantashe’s own involvement with these power stations is equally questionable: he was Secretary-General of the ANC during the Chancellor House/Hitachi scandal – wherein the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House held a 25% stake in Hitachi, a company that was awarded the tender to provide the boilers for the two beleaguered power stations, now long overdue and billions over budget.
The coincidences don’t stop there, however. Voltec, the company at the centre of the current scandal, claim in court papers that the payments to Mokoena were related to the National Solar Water Heating Programme – a project that is administered by the Department of Energy (Mantashe’s own department), and which is also the centre of much controversy. But the company to which Voltex made the payments – Ntlokholo – is not involved in the solar water heating tender.
All of these coincidences raise serious questions about the man in whose orbit all these dodgy deals keep happening: Minister Gwede Mantashe. With this in mind, President Ramaphosa would be doing the country a great service by removing him from any position, including that of Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, where he can influence tenders or where his involvement in any way calls into question the legality and ethical management of government funds.
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