Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

In her insightful analysis Ranjeni Munusamy correctly treats the Bosasa state capture scandal as a stain on Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency. But her conclusion that “this tainting of Ramaphosa by [the] Bosasa affair highlights political meddling by big business … even with a good guy in charge” suggests ANC leaders are the victims of the evil corrupting influence of big business. This is a misdiagnosis.

In truth, the Bosasa-Ramaphosa scandal is an illuminating example of the modus operandi the ANC has carefully fostered over years. In this model, the ANC-in-business relies on the ANC-in-government for tenders and access, and then funnels money to back to the ANC-the-party and its leaders. It is a mutually reinforcing triangle of corruption, and it infects every level of the state.

Examples abound. VBS got money from ANC municipalities, funnelled donations to ANC affiliates and enriched ANC (and EFF) personalities. Chancellor House bought a big stake in Hitachi Power Africa, which then got a massive tender from Eskom, the profit from which helped fund the ANC’s election campaign.

Ramaphosa is not removed or isolated from this model at all. Actually, one struggles to think of a better example of the revolving door between the ANC-in-business (where Ramaphosa made billions) and the ANC-in-government (which he now leads). Through much of the past “lost decade” Ramaphosa chaired the ANC’s all-powerful “deployment committee”, which former ANC minister Barbara Hogan has heroically if belatedly called out for what it is — a mechanism to stack state companies and departments with loyalists and keep this triangle model rolling.  He also chaired the cabinet committee on state-owned enterprises.

For all his lies and evasiveness, former president Jacob Zuma is quite right to point out, as he has now done in court papers, that Ramaphosa was at his side and was fully informed. Time will tell how much Ramaphosa really knew about what was happening with nuclear power procurement and the complete capture of Eskom.

Zuma also perfected the model of using his son as a business proxy for his dirty dealings. Ramaphosa’s explanation of his son Andile’s relationship with Bosasa rings hollow. His defence that Andile does only foreign consulting work for Bosasa is neither here nor there, since this does nothing to remove the obvious opportunity for corruption here. It’s reminiscent of Duduzane Zuma’s Dubai plea.

Bosasa and its subsidiaries have been winning enormous government tenders for more than 20 years — they currently have government contracts worth more than R10bn. News24 editor-in-chief Adriaan Basson recently described Bosasa as “the ANC’s heart of darkness”. He is right. All indications are that the Bosasa wave will wash deep into the ANC’s benches.

There are already established links to Zuma, ANC MP Vincent Smith, ministers Gwede Mantashe, Nomvula Mokonyane, former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, deputy justice and correctional services, minister Thabang Makwetla, former president Thabo Mbeki’s political adviser, Titus Mafolo, and others. Since asking the question that sparked this debate in the house two weeks ago, I have submitted Promotion of Access to Information Act requests to Ramaphosa, his son Andile and Bosasa (now African Global) for the contract and invoice for “consulting services” provided by Ramaphosa junior to Bosasa.

Ramaphosa has been quick to appoint independent inquiries to investigate all manner of malfeasance elsewhere. This is laudable, but the same standard must now apply to him and his family. That’s why I’ve urged the president to appoint an independent inquiry headed by a retired judge to be selected by the chief justice, to fully investigate the Bosasa scandal. The inquiry should investigate the full involvement of the president and his family, the full extent of Bosasa’s web of corruption in the state; and all payments made by Bosasa to politicians, their families, companies or trusts.

If the president wants to be “the good guy” then there can be no double standards. He should welcome the call for an inquiry and accede to it immediately.

• Maimane is the leader of the DA.