The min­is­ter, her ex-lover and the grants de­ba­cle

Mes­sage shows re­la­tion­ship to con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­man

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - ATHANDIWE SABA sabaa@sun­day­times.co.za

SO­CIAL De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini has ex­posed her re­la­tion­ship with a con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­man with links to the so­cial grants dis­tri­bu­tion ten­der.

Her link to Lunga Ncwana has been the sub­ject of spec­u­la­tion since the grants scan­dal came to light. Now a se­ries of text mes­sages con­firm it, and re­veal clan­des­tine meet­ings, no­to­ri­ous friends and con­nec­tions to Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices.

The ex­plo­sive rev­e­la­tions are con­tained in cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Dlamini and then direc­torgen­eral of so­cial de­vel­op­ment Zane Dan­gor — who re­signed re­cently in the wake of the so­cial grants scan­dal.

In an SMS sent in March she wrote: “You and Sipho [Shezi — an ad­viser to the min­is­ter] have been used by [Sassa CEO Thokozani] Mag­waza who is a friend to my former boyfriend who wanted to ex­tort money from Lunga and could not.”

SO­CIAL De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Batha­bile Dlamini has ex­posed her re­la­tion­ship with a con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­man with links to the so­cial grants dis­tri­bu­tion ten­der.

The Sun­day Times has seen text mes­sages that con­firm the min­is­ter’s re­la­tion­ship with Lunga Ncwana, and re­veal clan­des­tine meet­ings, no­to­ri­ous friends and con­nec­tions to Cash Pay­mas­ter Ser­vices.

The ex­plo­sive rev­e­la­tions are con­tained in cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Dlamini and then di­rec­tor-gen­eral of so­cial de­vel­op­ment Zane Dan­gor — who re­signed re­cently in the wake of the so­cial grants scan­dal.

The di­rect link to Ncwana is con­tained in one mes­sage Dlamini sent in March, in which she ac­cused Dan­gor of at­tend­ing meet­ings that de­cided who should be her friends: “You and Sipho [Shezi — ad­viser to the min­is­ter] have been used by [Sassa CEO Thokozani] Mag­waza who is a friend to my former boyfriend who wanted to ex­tort money from Lunga and could not.”

Dlamini’s re­la­tion­ship with Ncwana has been the sub­ject of spec­u­la­tion since the South African So­cial Se­cu­rity Agency scan­dal came to light and this is the first time that proof link­ing the two has been made public.

The Sun­day Times un­der­stands the ex-boyfriend men­tioned in the mes­sage is a former in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cial known as Ces­saro. It ap­pears the mes­sage re­lates to a fall­ing out over the es­tab­lish­ment of a BEE ve­hi­cle that was to part­ner with CPS to dis­trib­ute so­cial grants.

A Sun­day Times in­ves­ti­ga­tion has re­vealed that Ces­saro, the min­is­ter’s live-in part­ner at the time, was the brains behind es­tab­lish­ing a BEE ve­hi­cle that part­nered with CPS in 2011. How­ever, sources say Ces­saro was side­lined when Ncwana and his associates were roped in.

When con­tacted for com­ment this week, Ces­saro said he was a very pri­vate per­son who would not com­ment on any re­la­tion­ship, pri­vate or per­sonal.

“I can tell you one thing, I have noth­ing to do with the min­is­ter. I have noth­ing to do with the CPS. I am no BEE part­ner of any­one.

“You can call her and ask when last she spoke to me. I am so OK with be­ing un­known, pri­vate and not be­ing a BEE part­ner of any­thing. I don’t ask money from any­body,” he said.

He had never tried to ex­tort money from any­one, as the min­is­ter claims in mes­sages. “I don’t know why she [Dlamini] would say I tried to ex­tort money from Lunga Ncwana. If Lunga says that to you, I will com­ment. I’m not a black­mailer or ex­tor­tion­ist and I am happy not be­ing in the me­dia.”

The min­is­ter’s spokes­woman, Lumka Oliphant, de­manded proof of the cor­re­spon­dence.

“By now any re­spectable jour­nal­ist or me­dia house that claims to be do­ing an ‘in­ves­ti­ga­tion’ should bring hard ev­i­dence and not cor­ri­dor gos­sip. If it is al­leged that money ex­changed hands . . . as you seem to be, there should be ev­i­dence. Your in­ves­ti­ga­tion should be pre­sent­ing the min­is­ter with that,” she said. Any­one with ev­i­dence of meet­ings with peo­ple from out­side the de­part­ment or Sassa should ap­proach the law en­force­ment agen­cies, she said.

In­sid­ers claimed Ncwana used his prox­im­ity to Dlamini to in­ter­fere in the de­part­ment’s op­er­a­tions and in­tim­i­date of­fi­cials. Sev­eral of­fi­cials in the de­part­ment and Sassa have la­belled Ncwana the driv­ing force behind the min­is­ter’s in­sis­tence to ex­tend the CPS con­tract.

Sources close to Ces­saro said he had told Dlamini about his plan to set up a BEE part­ner. But Dlamini had passed it on to her “close friend” Ncwana, who had run with it. “The night af­ter it was con­firmed that CPS has won the con­tract, Lunga . . . came to cel­e­brate at the min­is­ter’s house. Ces­saro was asked to give them some space. When he re­alised this, he was told he would get his share and he shouldn’t worry,” said a source close to Dlamini.

Ncwana is close to Brian Mosehla, the so-called BEE part­ner in the CPS-Sassa deal. Mosehla al­legedly walked away with R83-mil­lion from the deal. But ac­cord­ing to Serge Be­la­mant, the CEO of Net1, the par­ent com­pany of CPS, Mosehla is still CPS’s BEE part­ner.

He said CPS’s BEE part­ner was Busi­ness Ven­ture In­vest­ments No 1774, which, ac­cord­ing to a com­pany search, is wholly owned by Mosehla. The com­pany also comes up as Ncwana’s em­ployer as of Oc­to­ber 2016.

A Sassa of­fi­cial re­calls that in 2011, prior to the award of the R10-bil­lion con­tract to CPS, Ncwana was in­volved in meet­ings with the min­is­ter and of­fi­cials. Mosehla was first seen by Sassa of­fi­cials in 2012, just be­fore Al­lPay took the agency to court to in­val­i­date the CPS con­tract.

Af­ter the Sun­day Times sent a list of ques­tions to Oliphant, they were cir­cu­lated in chat groups that in­cluded the im­pli­cated in­di­vid­u­als.

Calls to Ncwana went to voice­mail, and he did not re­spond to text mes­sages or What­sApps.

When con­tacted, Mosehla said: “Who are you? This is not Brian’s num­ber.” He did not re­spond to sub­se­quent phone calls or text mes­sages.

Ncwana the driv­ing force behind in­sis­tence on CPS con­tract

’EX­TORT’: Batha­bile Dlamini

’IN­TER­FERED’: Lunga Ncwana

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