Seta cash fills SACP’s cof­fers

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Apri­vate train­ing col­lege – in which the in­vest­ment wing of the SA Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) and the party’s trea­surer have shares – has been awarded con­tracts worth R235 mil­lion from the Na­tional Skills Fund (NSF) and the coun­try’s big­gest sec­tor ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing au­thor­ity (Seta).

The con­tracts were awarded since 2009, when SACP leader Blade Nz­i­mande was ap­pointed higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing min­is­ter. The NSF and South Africa’s 21 Se­tas fall un­der his de­part­ment.

City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port, has learnt that the SACP’s in­vest­ment com­pany, Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments, is a share­holder in LHR So­lu­tions, a pri­vate train­ing col­lege do­ing busi­ness as Let­satsi. It clinched con­tracts worth R235 mil­lion from the NSF and the Ser­vices Sec­tor Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Author­ity (Sseta) since 2011. Let­satsi was tasked with es­tab­lish­ing co­op­er­a­tives and as­sist­ing its mem­bers with train­ing.

Nz­i­mande’s de­part­ment and the Sseta strongly deny that Nz­i­mande’s role as SACP leader played a role in the award­ing of the con­tracts.

Joyce Moloi-Moropa, an ANC MP who was also ap­pointed SACP trea­surer in 2012, owns shares worth R800 000 in Let­satsi, ac­cord­ing to the par­lia­men­tary reg­is­ter of mem­bers’ in­ter­ests.

Ac­cord­ing to the reg­is­ter, she is also a share­holder in, and di­rec­tor of, Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments, a com­pany she de­scribes as a “party in­vest­ment wing”.

Moloi-Moropa said she could not com­ment on Let­satsi is­sues be­cause she did not work there.

“I am not its ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. I will not know of the day-to-day run­ning of the busi­ness,” she said.

At least un­til early this year, Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments CEO Livhu Nen­govhela had an of­fice at Let­satsi’s of­fices in Jo­han­nes­burg.

Nen­govhela’s credit records show he gave the tele­phone num­ber listed on Let­satsi’s web­site as his work num­ber un­til the end of Jan­uary.

A re­cep­tion­ist at Let­satsi this week said Nen­govhela did not have an of­fice there any more. She pro­vided his cell­phone num­ber, but he didn’t an­swer his phone or re­spond to text mes­sages.

Moloi-Moropa also de­clared an in­ter­est in the homony­mous Mas­in­caze­lane Trust in the reg­is­ter of mem­bers’ in­ter­ests. She listed the SACP as a trustee or ben­e­fi­ciary of the trust.

Records from the of­fice of the Master of the North Gaut­eng High Court, where the trust was reg­is­tered, show that Nz­i­mande and other se­nior SACP mem­bers, in­clud­ing Jeremy Cronin and Charles Nqakula, were trustees of the trust when it was reg­is­tered in 2007.

“The min­is­ter is not a trustee of the Mas­in­caze­lane Trust and is not in­volved with Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments,” said Nz­i­mande’s spokesper­son, Khaye Nk­wanyana.

Com­pany records show Let­satsi was es­tab­lished in 2002. But the big con­tracts from the NSF and the Sseta only started af­ter Nz­i­mande’s ap­point­ment as min­is­ter and af­ter se­nior SACP mem­bers and a for­mer di­rec­tor of Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments were ap­pointed in key po­si­tions at the NSF and the Sseta.

Let­satsi won its first con­tract from the NSF, worth R13 mil­lion, in 2011. This was shortly af­ter Mvuy­isi Macikama, a for­mer di­rec­tor of Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments, was ap­pointed as CEO of the NSF.

In Septem­ber 2011, Nz­i­mande also ap­pointed a mem­ber of the SACP cen­tral com­mit­tee, Gwebs Qonde, as di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the de­part­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion. As di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Qonde is the NSF’s ac­count­ing au­thor­ity.

In 2012, Let­satsi was awarded a sec­ond con­tract by the NSF, worth R163 mil­lion.

Let­satsi got its first con­tract from the Sseta in 2013, val­ued at R12.5 mil­lion. In June this year, it clinched a sec­ond con­tract, worth al­most R47 mil­lion, from the Sseta.

Th­ese con­tracts came af­ter the ap­point­ment to the board of the Sseta of Madoda Sam­batha, SACP pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary for North West. Sam­batha was ap­pointed by Nz­i­mande in 2011.

Let­satsi did not an­swer ques­tions re­gard­ing Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments’ share­hold­ing in the com­pany, but did not deny it.

It’s not clear how many of Let­satsi’s shares are owned by it or which other com­pa­nies or in­di­vid­u­als also own shares in the com­pany. Let­satsi this week for­bade its au­di­tors from sup­ply­ing Rap­port with the com­pany’s trans­fer reg­is­ter af­ter the news­pa­per re­quested it ac­cord­ing to the Com­pa­nies Act.

“We have re­li­able in­for­ma­tion that [the jour­nal­ist] is em­ploy­ing racist ten­den­cies … to gather fab­ri­cated in­for­ma­tion against po­lit­i­cal lead­ers,” Mac­beth Ncon­g­wane, Let­satsi’s lawyer, said in an email to the au­di­tor.

Mean­while, it seems the qual­ity of Let­satsi’s train­ing is some­times lack­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to re­ports about Let­satsi’s ac­tiv­i­ties in Mpumalanga in 2013, which were handed to the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment, the com­pany’s train­ers could not ex­plain to mem­bers of co­op­er­a­tives how to do a cost­ing cal­cu­la­tion for their agri­cul­tural prod­ucts.

The train­ers said Let­satsi did not pro­vide them with the nec­es­sary study ma­te­ri­als while some train­ers ap­par­ently couldn’t pro­vide proof that they pre­sented the cour­ses they were paid for, said the re­ports.

Let­satsi man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Lu­lama Manyadu said the prob­lems in Mpumalanga could not be blamed on her com­pany. She said the source of the Mpumalanga re­ports was the dis­grun­tled co­or­di­na­tor of the project in the prov­ince who was fired.

“Your only source and co-con­spir­a­tor’s ser­vices were ended … due to non­per­for­mance and af­ter she failed in her men­tor­ship, al­though she still ex­pected to be paid,” said Manyadu.

She said it was not un­com­mon for a com­pany like Let­satsi to sub­con­tract work.

“Its gen­eral prac­tice is to work with train­ers in the in­dus­try, de­pend­ing on their skills, ca­pac­ity and lo­ca­tion,” said Manyadu.

Nk­wanyana said Macikama and Qonde’s in­volve­ment with the NSF played no part in the con­tracts Let­satsi had won from the in­sti­tu­tion.

“There are mea­sures and in­ter­nal con­trols in the ten­der process to make sure peo­ple who are awarded con­tracts get it in a proper way,” he said.

“The idea that Mr Macikama is in­flu­enc­ing the NSF board [in award­ing con­tracts] is ab­surd and is re­jected with the con­tempt it de­serves.”

The Sseta said that the con­tracts awarded to Let­satsi were done ac­cord­ing to proper guide­lines and the Seta’s ac­qui­si­tion reg­u­la­tions, and that Sam­batha in no way in­flu­enced the award­ing of the con­tracts.

“We re­gard it as an in­sult to Mr Sam­batha and the Sseta that his po­si­tion as SACP sec­re­tary in North West [ap­par­ently] de­ter­mines his at­ti­tude with re­gard to mat­ters of the Sseta board.”

SACP spokesper­son Alex Mashilo said: “As with any other po­lit­i­cal party, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the SACP and its spon­sors and donors are con­fi­den­tial. Mas­in­caze­lane In­vest­ments didn’t con­clude any fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions with the SACP.”

– Rap­port

Blade Nz­i­mande

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