Grey bags stuffed with cash, a Christmas feast for a minister, a birthday cake for the president – a public inquiry is revealing some extraordinary details about the problem of state corruption in South Africa.
The allegations by Angelo Agrizzi, a former executive of the Bosasa company which had contracts with the state, have gripped the country as investigators probe the scandal-tainted reign of former president Jacob Zuma.
Appearing this week at the Zondo commission in Johannesburg, Agrizzi said he supplied an array of services for high-profile members of Zuma’s government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
“I am talking about doing the favours, doing the lekgotlas (party meetings), being in the forefront, doing the cakes, doing the birthday parties, organising things,” a jolly and confident Agrizzi told the commission.
“I was personally involved. I would have to authorise,” he said.
The explosive testimony has yet to be weighed by the commission for truth and fairness.
But if true, it powerfully supports long-standing accusations that Zuma let ministries and government agencies be plundered during his nine-year reign — a scandal known in South Africa as “state capture”.
Lobby group Corruption Watch executive director David Lewis told AFP that the revelations cast a stark and worrying light, not least on “the willingness of ordinary South Africans to get involved in something completely against the law.”
Former and current ministers, civil servant and some of the big banks have also given testimony to the Zondo commission, but it is Agrizzi who has stolen the spotlight.
For more than a decade, Bosasa — renamed African Global Operations in 2017 — used so-called “monopoly money” to secure huge profits from contracts with government departments and state-owned companies, according to his account.
The smartly dressed former executive, flanked by private security guards, has so far made seven appearances before Judge Raymond Zondo.
This week he named some high-profile ANC figures as recipients of “grey security bags full of money,” aimed at ensuring that the winds of politics blew favourably for his former company.
Vincent Smith, a MP on the National Assembly’s correctional services committee, was allegedly paid 100,000 rand ($7,200) monthly to not ask questions in parliament.