ZWELINZIMA VAVI – RESPONSE TO THE SIZWENTSALUBAGOBODO FORENSIC AUDITORS
SizweNtsalubaGobodo submitted a “final report” to the CEC held on the 10 February 2014. The report contained adverse findings against me and other persons. COSATU issued a statement the next day, which repeated these adverse findings against me.
Through my lawyers I wrote to SizweNtsalubaGobodo, reminding them of the undertaking they have given to me in the presence of the other facilitators appointed by the CEC – Petrus Mashishi and Charles Nupen. The undertaking was that they would give any person against whom they intended to make an adverse finding the right of reply before they finalised their report.
On 10 February 2014, and after they had presented their “final report” to the CEC, SizweNtsalubaGobodo wrote to me requesting to interview me. Their email read as follows:
Dear Mr. Vavi,
Earlier today we attended the CEC meeting to discuss our report. We would also like to have a meeting with you to discuss the report. If possible may we please meet tomorrow any time between 10H00 and 15H00 or you can propose a date that will be appropriate for you? Please feel free to contact me should you need clarity about the proposed meeting.
On the 21 March 2014 my lawyers wrote a letter to the SizweNtsalubaGobodo. The letter is inserted below for easy reference:
In response to my attorneys’ letter in which my attorneys took SizweNtsalubaGobodo to task for trying to do damage control by inviting me to a discussion of a final report that was now already adopted by the CEC and was in the media causing immeasurable damage to my reputation. SizweNtsalubaGobodo through Mveleli Booi responded as following:
I refused to meet SizweNtsalubaGobodo and told them that I will not meet them again until they apologise to the COSATU CEC and the public for misleading actions such as claiming that they have a final report to the CEC whilst they write to me claiming that the report is only a draft subject to further investigations. I reserved my rights in this regard.
The report presented to the CEC on the 10 February 2013 contained two allegations against me. They claimed I had a conflict of interests. They claimed that I did not disclose to the CEC that VMS employed my stepdaughter, Thabisa Ngema, and that my wife, Noluthando Vavi, was a joint director with Craig Green of VMS.
I deny that I had any conflict of interests. The VMS relationship with COSATU predates my marriage to Noluthando. COSATU entered into a contract with VMS in 2006 with the first master rental agreement signed on 2 December 2006. I married Noluthando on 18 August 2007.
According to an account given to me by Craig Green, Thabisa Ngema was asked if she could write a Java programme to assist in capturing data in order to fast track audits. She was provided a R12 000 retainer. For a week or two she went to the VMS to access information related to this task.
I knew nothing about this until the media (Karima Brown) contacted me in about 02 March 2014 saying that a COSATU service provider employs my daughter. My answer was: “Thabisa Ngema is my stepdaughter. She left my house about two years ago after falling pregnant while on second year doing technology in the financial sector. My relationship with her broke down at that point. Not because of pregnancy but because of other family-related things that I am not willing to engage in a public forum.
I don’t know where she stays or work. When you sent me that SMS I called her mom and Craig to check. The answer I am getting is that she resides in Slovo Majola’s house. Craig tells me he engaged her for a specific software programme two/three weeks ago. Thabisa has been there about 3 times for that purpose. I don’t know the terms of the contract or anything beyond that. I cant responsibility for her or Craig’s company”
Accordingly, I deny that I was conflicted (see point 7 above) or that I arranged for my stepdaughter be employed by VMS. Conflict of interests as defined in South African law.
Noluthando Vavi and VMS’s Craig Green, together with Mr Tony Barradas, were joint directors of a company called Simethebile in October 2014. This company which was to import diesel. It never traded after being registered. The company has since been deregistered. COSATU does not trade in diesel.
Above all, this business relationship was concluded way after the conclusion of the contract between VMS and COSATU, and therefore I can’t be conflicted as a result of Noluthando and Craig’s activities that have nothing to do with COSATU interests. Further I must state I knew nothing of the joint directorship of Noluthando and Craig until the matter appeared in the SizweNtsalubaGobodo report to the CEC.
At the end of March 2014 and the beginning of April 2013 SizweNtsalubaGobodo asking me to avail myself for another interview. They would not say anything about the fact that they lied to me in claiming that they presented a final report to the CEC whilst telling me that it was a draft report still subject to investigation. Frankly, I had no reason to meet with them without us crossing the line of dispute i.e. why they claimed that they presented a draft report subject to further investigation to me whilst they tell the CEC that the report was final leading to COSATU adopting their report.
On 28 March 2014 the SizweNtsalubaGobodo sent me the new terms of reference as follows:
Dear Mr. Vavi,
Please see an extract of our scope extension letter below dealing with the objectives of the extended scope:
This letter said nothing about the previous exchange. It said nothing about correcting or setting the record straight regarding whether the report was a draft or final report or recognising my right and those adversely mentioned in the report their legal right to be heard. I did not respond around the same time or on the on the 08 April 2014 to be precise, the CEC took a decision on the cessation of hostilities subject to the ANC Task Team recommendations. That decision spoke to these activities of what I regard as the endless attempt to find a corruption tag to hand around my neck.
Little did I know that SizweNtsalubaGobodo was, notwithstanding the 08 April 2014 and 12 August 2014 CEC, continuing with its investigation. This was in violation of the CEC’s decision.
In February 2015 the NOBs met representatives of SizweNtsalubaGobodo with the intention of receiving a progress report on their investigation. They read the report to the NOBs again (for the second time) making adverse findings against others and me without giving us a right to be heard. I reserve my rights again in this regard.
Since I don’t have a copy of this report making adverse findings against me, I will rely on my memory and notes I took in the meeting to make my observations. I reserve my right to supplement this statement at a later stage if necessary in particular when I receive the report and study it.
The report makes a claim that no other service providers were engaged before making the decision to appoint VMS. This is not true. Mrs Nonhlanhla Hlomuka presented to SizweNtsalubaGobodo a file showing how COSATU engaged four service providers, which were Phambile (Xerox), Katlego (Canon), VMS Technologies and Gestetner.
It is not true that a comparable analysis was not developed. All these four companies’ prices for the services they were offering were compared to one another. This analysis was given to SizweNtsalubaGobodo.
It is not true that COSATU adopted a tender policy, which according to SizweNtsalubaGobodo, COSATU is supposed to follow by putting the tender in newspapers. We have checked if a tender policy was ever adopted. Indeed a draft was presented to three CEC meetings, but it was never adopted. It is the finance manual that regulates procurement – the COSATU financial policy requires that the there should be three quotes from competing companies before a decision is taken. This policy was followed in the case of awarding the contracts.
The SizweNtsalubaGobodo report says we did not put the buying of refrigerators into a tender process. Firstly, there is no tender policy in COSATU – there is a financial policy and financial manual as pointed out above. Secondly, VMS gave us four refrigerators including a double door directly from Samsung plus three others plus microwave and a recorder for only R20 000 which was special or factory price. The retail price of a double door refrigerator is around R15 000. The retail price of smaller refrigerators is around R3000. The retail price of the microwave is around R3000. It makes no sense to ask for three quotes when the factory price would compete with retail prices. We are being condemned for saving the federation money.
SizweNtsalubaGobodo recommend that disciplinary action be taken against Mrs Hlomuka and me for our involvement in the awarding of the contract to VMS contrary to the tender policy. This is wrong because there is no tender policy in COSATU. In addition, assuming that a misstep happened, which I deny, why would disciplinary action be taken against only two when the contracts with VMS were signed by Zwelinzima Vavi, Violet Seboni, Alinah Rantsolase, Sidumo Dlamini, Bheki Ntshalintshali and Freda Oosthysen? And what happens to the fiduciary duties of everyone else because reports were provided to the CEC and CC. Why does SizweNtsalubaGobodo pick on two people who belong to a collective as if they knew nothing about the whole process? Why does SizweNtsalubaGobodo ignore this information provided to them?
The SizweNtsalubaGobodo report makes a further claim that in relation to the termination of contracts with previous service providers, that there was no evidence of savings. This is not true – COSATU’s monthly costs used to be around R200 000; they dropped to between R70 and R80 000 amongst others. Why did SizweNtsalubaGobodo choose to ignore evidence?
Conclusion: To me this whole episode is nothing but a witch-hunt to “surgically remove the General Secretary” and to deal with the “elephant in the room”.
Initially I was accused by faceless members of the CEC who spoke to the newspapers that I have benefited in the purchase and selling of the COSATU buildings. SizweNtsalubaGobodo went to investigate at a huge price to workers financially. Nothing of that kind was proven correct. No one ever came back to the public and say sorry.
Secondly, I was accused of having benefitted from the R12 million rands used to buy furniture and other upgrades of the COSATU new buildings. Again a huge search for evidence was initiated. Nothing was found to be true. To the contrary receipts for every cent spent of the R12 million spent were produced to the shock of the detractors. No one came back to me to say sorry.
Now a third investigation is initiated to find evidence on the basis of false claims that contracts to the VMS were awarded by me alone because I am conflicted. The good that we did for the organisation is rubbished just to satisfy an agenda to try find something on the General Secretary. When will this ever stop?
By Zwelinzima Vavi