By Staff Writer

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s rise to the nations’ highest office has always been shrouded in controversy, especially where money is concerned.
Even as he battles the farmgate, his worst scandal yet, the president does so with one hand and fends off others with another. His links to the Swiss-based mining multinational Glencore are a past back to haunt him.
Two weeks ago, Glencore pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.2 billion (R19 bn) in fines and penalties for corrupt practices in dealing with foreign governments. The admissions have revived Ramaphosa’s links with the company and several allegations levelled against him in this regard have resurfaced.
In June last year, for 10 days, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture or the Zondo Commission listened to Glencore CEO Clinton Ephron’s response to allegation made by former Eskom CEOs Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko.
Their allegations stem from questions surrounding Glencore’s sale of the Optimum coal mine, which supplied coal to Eskom’s Hendrina power station, to the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources in 2016.
This was after the mine, owned by Optimum Coal Holdings, which was 67% owned by Glencore, was into business rescue when Eskom under Molefe scrapped its long-term contract to supply Eskom with coal. At the same time, Eskom levied a R2.1-billion penalty for the mine’s apparent failure to meet its coal quality specifications.
Now, in the light of Glencore admission to bribery, Koko said he was consulting lawyers about igniting fresh investigations into Ramaphosa-linked Glencore and its dirty deals at the power utility.
Ramaphosa, who was then head of government business and overseeing Eskom, was also chair of Glencore at the same time.
He has been widely accused of facilitating deals for Glencore at the expense of Eskom and the taxpayer.
Koko has also raised several red flags about Glencore’s dealings with the parastatal. He accused the Zondo Commission of shrugging off his testimony. He said the findings in the US were proof that the Zondo Commission was flawed. “I have always held the view that Glencore is not an honest company.
In 2019, then DA leader Mmusi Maimane accused Ramaphosa of conflict of interest and of misleading his own cabinet and in doing so breached the Executive Code of Ethics.
In the lead up to Cyril Ramaphosa’s election as ANC President, Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson gave a R500,000 “donation” to Ramaphosa’s campaign. Once Ramaphosa was elected, his son, Andile, earned at least R2 million from Bosasa for “strategic and financial advisory services” – emanating from a contractual agreement the president told Parliament he had seen.
It later emerged that was not true and Ramaphosa apologised saying he had been misinformed.
It is this scandal that brought Ramaphosa and suspended Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane into direct collusion.
When she took up the investigations, Mkhwebane was accused of bias and was said to have become a participant in a fight-back by allies of former President Zuma.
This investigation by Mkhwebane led the President to request that bank statements lodged by the public protector in the Pretoria high court be sealed from public access. These accounts were relating to donations made to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign.
Midday 15 August 2012, at the time, a member of the ANC’s national executive committee, a Lonmin shareholder and a non-executive board member, president Ramaphosa sent an email to the Lonmin mining bosses with these words:
“The terrible events that have unfolded cannot be described as a labour dispute. They are plainly dastardly criminal and must be characterised as such. In line with this characterisation, there needs to be concomitant action to address this situation.
“You are absolutely correct in insisting that the Minister and indeed all government officials need to understand that we are essentially dealing with a criminal act. I have said as much to the Minister of Safety and Security.”
A day after he sent that email, 34 mineworkers were gunned down in Marikana, in the North West, in what became known as the Marikana Massacre.
A later, a commission of inquiry chaired by Judge Ian Farlam, better known as the Marikana Commission, exonerates all key political figures accused of having a hand in the events including Ramaphosa.
In 2012, Ramaphosa’s wealth captured the nation’s news agenda.
As a designate deputy president of the ANC and designated number two in the country, he failed to declare his business interest to the ANC. He was let off the hook for the moment as he was not asked to serve in government yet.
Even at that time, Ramaphosa held a sizeable wealth portfolio. A glance at the holdings of Shanduka, in which the Ramaphosa Family Trust owns 30%, reveals a large and diverse range of interests across almost every sector.
In the financial sector, these include holdings of 1.2% in Standard Bank, where Mr Ramaphosa is also a director, 7.8% in Alexander Forbes and 1.5% in the Liberty Group.
Shanduka also owns part of Bidvest and has interests in the telecom sector in South Africa and Nigeria. It also has a 32.7% interest in a cellphone tower building operation in Nigeria — Helios Towers — and 12.5% in Seacom, which constructs undersea cables. Today, that wealth is estimated at R7, 5 billion.

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