African News

From China to Krugersdorp: Andile Ramaphosa and the Bosasa ‘billions’

Published

on

Andile Ramaphosa, the son of President Cyril Ramaphosa, has a far closer relationship with corruption-accused facilities management and security company Bosasa than he and his father have been willing to admit – until now.

In an exclusive interview on Monday, Ramaphosa Jr confirmed key details of a News24 investigation spanning several months which lifts the lid on the secretive relationship between one of the country’s most controversial companies and a son of the president.

Ramaphosa Jr’s Blue Crane Capital netted around R2m in accumulated monthly payments from the Krugersdorp company since February 2018, he confirmed.

This was paid in monthly amounts, starting at R150 000 in February 2018, and later increasing to R230 000. By December 2018, when Ramaphosa Jr terminated the contract with Bosasa, his company had invoiced Bosasa a total of R2m.  

EXCLUSIVE: Andile Ramaphosa admits Bosasa paid him R2m

In exchange, Ramaphosa Jr provided “advisory” work on a series of more than 20 government and private contracts in Uganda and Kenya he had identified and partnered with Bosasa to execute, potentially worth “billions” of rand by his own admission.

He later backtracked on the figure of “billions” in written responses to follow-up questions after the interview, saying the projects had never been properly valued.

“The reality is none of the pipeline projects were ever valued. Upon success in converting a significant portion of the pipeline, the projects would have certainly been worth a significant amount in revenue over a period. Conversely, we have lost millions of rand in other pipeline projects as a result of the fallout from this matter,” he told News24.

ALSO READ: Bosasa CEO’s ‘hidden’ R500K donation to Ramaphosa deconstructed

Ramaphosa Jr has now stated he regrets entering into a business agreement with Bosasa, and admits a lack of oversight and due diligence led to him missing crucial red flags the allegations of corruption raised.

But, this investigation shows, the explanation may not be that simple.

Riding shotgun on the more than 20 projects was the world’s second-biggest surveillance and security equipment manufacturer – China’s Dahua Technology.

Ramaphosa Jr intended to bring the company’s products into the African market.

With the “pipeline” of projects in his back pocket, all Ramaphosa Jr needed was a business partner with a proven track record of handling big projects.

And so, despite the glaring red flags a simple Google search would have revealed, Ramaphosa Jr and Dahua settled on Bosasa.

Over and above bringing the projects to the table, Ramaphosa Jr may have brought another factor to bear: His influence.

A text message from Bosasa employee Riaan van der Merwe, who worked closely with Dahua, to former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi on March 14, 2017 reads:

“Hi Angelo. Dahua wants to set up an (sic) private appointment with you to meet Andile Ramaphosa to structure a relationship/joint venture for the companies to tender on projects and they will use their influence to secure projects. They are looking for a strong trustworthy partner that can deliver results, Please advise on the way forward.”

He adds that “they” wanted to meet the following week.

Agrizzi responded: “No problem let’s do it.”

Van der Merwe, himself a long-time player in the security technology industry, confirmed the message was authentic.

Ramaphosa Jr said: “I refute that completely. It was not about relying on the level of influence I could exercise, that is not how I do business or have conducted myself in the past. We had put together a very compelling solution, backed by up a team of very capable individuals, technical and operational partners. We were confident on our ability to deliver.”

A picture of a meeting scheduled for March 14, 2017 on Agrizzi’s MS Outlook calendar was also obtained by News24. The meeting was created by Wang.

Soon thereafter, due to the deteriorating relationship between Agrizzi and Watson, Agrizzi left the company and the meeting never took place. Instead, it fell to GTS boss and Bosasa board member Trevor Mathenjwa, who News24 understands met with Ramaphosa Jr and Dahua in April 2017.

 

andile ramaphosa

A picture Riaan van der Merwe took of a meeting between Andile Ramaphosa and Bosasa, specifically Angelo Agrizzi, scheduled for March 2017. The meeting, Ramaphosa said, never took place. 

By December 2017, 10 days before the ANC’s historic and highly contested national elective conference at Nasrec, during which Cyril Ramaphosa was voted in as president of the party, Ramaphosa Jr had put pen to paper on an “advisory mandate” with Bosasa.

Now he claims this is something he “sincerely regrets”.

The Bosasa scandal has dogged the president’s term in office since it emerged that Gavin Watson, the company’s CEO, donated R500 000 toward his ANC presidential campaign in October 2017.

By February 2018 to date, only one out of the 21 envisaged projects was ever completed Ramaphosa Jr said; the installation of solar panels at petrol stations owned by two large multinational oil companies in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

The completion of this project resulted in the jump in the monthly fee, which would have continued to rise as more projects were realised.

Ramaphosa Jr admitted that both he and his company missed crucial red flags surrounding Bosasa, and that he has learned a “painful” lesson on choosing business partners. 

“It was a severe oversight on our part,” he said.

“It is clear now with the benefit of hindsight that our due diligence was insufficient in retrospect of my father’s role going into the Presidency,” Ramaphosa Jr said in a written response to follow-up questions.

A timeline showing the origins of Ramaphosa Jr’s relationship with Bosasa however, portrays a different story far removed from his version, which equates to “I made a mistake.”

In fact, the opposite may be true.

Krugersdorp goes Global

In June 2017, within two months of the first known meeting between Ramaphosa Jr, Dahua and Bosasa in April of the same year, the company underwent a major makeover, changing its name to African Global Operations.

 Its security arm, subsidiary company Sondolo IT, also took on a new facade, becoming Global Technology Systems.

Conceivably, the rebranding was a bid to escape long-standing allegations of corruption associated with the Bosasa name, which have been in the public domain since 2009.

The company denied this and issued vague notifications devoid of any reasons for the change to its suppliers and staff. 

bosasa

A picture of a letter informing the reader of Bosasa’s name change being effective as at 26 June 2017. 

During the interview, Ramaphosa Jr said Bosasa was already in the process of expanding into Africa when he met them in “mid-2017” but they were struggling with the “how”.

News24 discovered that Ramaphosa Jr was introduced to Bosasa by the head of Dahua in South Africa, Fritz Wang.

Wang has since returned to China. News24 could not immediately reach him for comment.

Coincidentally – similarly to Blue Crane – Bosasa was also developing “smart city” technology to take to the market, also with Dahua, Ramaphosa Jr explained.

Blue Crane had been working with Dahua on tech solutions since early 2016.

The 5ha office park that serves as Bosasa’s head office in Krugersdorp was refitted with Dahua smart city technology, and renamed the Smart Global Campus, also around the time Ramaphosa Jr is known to have been introduced in early 2017.

This was in aid of the entire office park being used as a “showroom” to illustrate AGO’s abilities with the Dahua tech.

The sweeping change was then, simply, a reflection of the company’s newfound vision of taking its business across borders and into the heart of Africa initiated well before Ramaphosa Jr arrived on the scene, the parties involved claim.

Taking into account the timing of this major change and the discovery that the first meeting between Ramaphosa Jr, Dahua and Bosasa took place in March 2017 – two months before the name change in June 2017 – it is far more likely that at the centre of Bosasa’s shift to an “African” and “Global” outlook was the “pipeline” of 21 East Africa projects brought to the table by Ramaphosa Jr , and the global aspect brought onboard by Dahua.

Ramaphosa Jr denied this.

“By the time we entered into a relationship, AGO had already been formed, as evident in the contract we entered into. The agreement was between us and AGO, not Bosasa,” Ramaphosa Jr said.

“We did query the reason behind the name change and found it consistent with the management’s rationale to reposition and rebrand their businesses as a precursor to expanding their operations to other geographies,” he added.

“At no point in time did we enter into a business relationship with AGO or anybody with corrupt intentions or desire to subvert the law or due process for our monetary benefit.”

Spokesperson for Bosasa, Papa Leshabane, referred queries to liquidator Cloete Murray, who did not respond to text messages and calls seeking his comment.

Van der Merwe, who sent the text message to Agrizzi over Ramaphosa, was hired to work to work for GTS (then named Sondolo IT) in January 2016.

andile ramaphosa

A screenshot of the text message Riaan van der Merwe sent to Angelo Agrizzi regarding a meeting Dahua Technology wished to set up with Andile Ramaphosa.

“The influence happens obviously from a manufacturer perspective,” Van der Merwe told News24 on Friday when questioned over the meaning of his text.

“You call it a push and pull scenario. If a manufacturer ends up dealing with, let’s say [a major retailer], and they like the Dahua product, but Dahua doesn’t do installations.

“Where the influence comes in is Dahua would say I have a couple of people I can recommend, which we call preferred installers. Those guys need to have lots of training in order to make sure Dahua doesn’t burn themselves by recommending the wrong person, and that’s what I mean by they will use their influence,” Van der Merwe said.

“At that stage I didn’t have an idea who Ramaphosa was anyhow. To me that’s just another African dude that’s going to be somewhere in politics. Later on I found out… I don’t watch or follow the news. I just did my work as I was required to do, I wasn’t building relationships or getting any advantages from anything in this process,” he added.

The entire Bosasa/Ramaphosa debacle started with a single line in an affidavit by former Bosasa auditor, Peet Venter. He mentioned that he had been instructed by Watson to pay R500 000 into an account belonging to the Andile Ramaphosa Foundation.

Ramaphosa Jr denied having any knowledge of the payment, and denied that any such foundation existed. News24 also could not find any clues to the existence of such a foundation.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa’s son denies receiving R500 000 Bosasa payment 

This emerged to be false, as the account in question was actually an attorney’s trust account held by Edelstein Farber Grobler, a law firm in Sandton.

President Ramaphosa was forced to backtrack on his original response in Parliament last year when confronted with the Venter affidavit, during which he said he was aware of the payment to his son. 

In writing a week later, he corrected his response, saying the funds were actually paid into the account held by EFG, which was the account utilised for donations toward his ANC presidential campaign, CR17. 

President Ramaphosa is under investigation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who must now determine whether or not he purposefully lied to Parliament. 

It is for this reason that the cost of Ramaphosa Jr’s dalliance with Bosasa is yet to be fully realised.

ALSO READ: ‘There is no link’ – Ramaphosa campaign law firm dismisses Trillian, Gupta claims

*Do you have a tip for our investigative journalists? Send an email to tips@24.com

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

– FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Source link

قالب وردپرس

African News

Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

Published

on

By

People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

African News

Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

Published

on

By

“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

African News

Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

Published

on

By

Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

African News

Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

Published

on

By

Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred

In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can
trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to
a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism,
top opinions and a range of features. Journalism
strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

African News

Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

Published

on

By

By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

Share this article:

Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

Source link

قالب وردپرس

Continue Reading

popcaan