BizNews week in review: Zondo commission update; travel on taxpayers’ dime; Sygnia on ASISA; no confidence vote

By Melani Nathan 

  • Former Absa CEO Maria Ramos and her husband Trevor Manuel, former finance minister, were named on a list of high flying officials accused of abusing taxpayers’ money. After the Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Parliament released a list of hundreds of ex-politicians, officials and former ministers who have been raking up massive travel bills. The government removed certain travel benefits from its handbook last year, but travel costs have continued to soar as the rich and important flout the rules.
  • News that South Africans with retirement funds, annuities and preservation funds can increase their offshore investment was short-lived, with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, South African Reserve Bank and National Treasury suspending the new regulations. Sygnia Asset Management has released a statement condemning the actions of the ‘lobbying’ body behind the suspension. ‘Large asset managers, acting in an anti-competitive manner, have just stopped every investor in the country from accessing additional offshore investments. Not in the interest of South Africans or clients who trust them, not in line with Treating Customers Fairly, but motivated by self-interest and greed,’ said CEO Magda Wierzycka.

Read also:Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka: New exchange control regulations will hurt many asset managers

Read also:Did activists against prescribed assets go too far? Sygnia accuses IRR of making threats

  • The speaker of South Africa’s lower house of Parliament authorised a vote on a motion of no-confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa, according to a parliamentary official. The request for the vote was made by the African Transformation Movement which has only two seats in the 400-member National Assembly, meaning it has little chance of succeeding, reports Reuters. Ramaphosa’s predecessor as head of state, Jacob Zuma, survived many no-confidence votes before being ousted by Ramaphosa’s allies in the ANC in February 2018. According to the Constitution, a motion of no confidence in the president needs to be supported by a simple majority or at least 201 lawmakers in the National Assembly to pass.
  • Last week, the Zondo commission heard how Stephen van Coller, CEO of EOH discovered the fraud and corruption in his company, through a phone call from a journalist. Trough forensic investigation, it was found that executives at EOH had been colluding with government officials from the department of water and national defence, the national prosecuting authority and the city of Johannesburg. They exchanged bribes, gifts and donations for the award of government tenders. Van Coller alerted the Hawks and the police. Criminal cases were opened and the fraudulent gains of taxpayers’ money were returned. 85 people were dismissed from the company. Fifty companies were blacklisted. The commission heard that Denel boss Stephan Burger knowingly broke rules and handed large contracts to VR Laser – a company owned by known Gupta associate Salim Essa and Duduzane Zuma. It was also revealed that Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo was involved in corruption, receiving donations from EOH officials and donating astonishing amounts of money to the ANC to secure government contracts.

Read also: Zondo to urgently lay criminal charge against Dudu Myeni for revealing witness name #StateCaptureinquiry

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