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Home Affairs is paying R33 million a year to rent Pretoria office space from a company in which the chairman of the National Assembly’s finance committee, ANC MP Thaba Mufamadi, has a 50 percent shareholding.
In all, 25 388m2 of space has been leased in an agreement that will earn Manaka Property Investments R265m over the next eight years.
Mufamadi has already been approached by Parliament’s ethics committee to explain earlier revelations of his links to the company, reported to lease a number of buildings to government departments.
Details of the Home Affairs lease were revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question by DA MP Masizole Mnqasela.
Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the contract was entered into by public works on behalf of Home Affairs.
Mufamadi said the multi-million rand lease deal was sealed before he became an MP in May 2009. He said he had declared all his financial interests to Parliament.
Parliament’s register of members’ interests reflects that Mufamadi holds shares in 11 other companies. His shareholdings are in companies involved in diamond and mineral rights, mining supply and expropriation rights, property, auto body repairs and the defence industry, among others. There is no indication of the nominal value of the shares.
Mufamadi also disclosed that he had received a R40 000 Breitling watch as a gift from his friend Rayhaan Hasim, a Gauteng-based businessman and owner of a Tzaneen company called Magic Merkel Motors.
In 2004 the Scorpions started an investigation into allegations that Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Limpopo premier at the time, and Mufamadi, then Limpopo finance MEC, had received kickbacks from the BEE partner of Cash Paymaster Services, contracted to manage social grants. Both denied any wrongdoing.
In 2009 the Mail and Guardian reported on the corruption allegations against Ramatlhodi, now deputy minister of Correctional Services. The article stated that the Scorpions had uncovered that Mufamadi’s friend Hassim, among others, had made a payment towards a mansion Ramatlhodi bought in Tzaneen.
The probe was controversially shelved by the Scorpions in 2008.
Yesterday Mufamadi said that because no criminal charges materialised from the aborted investigation, he was absolved.
Recently the registrar of members’ interests in parliament, Fazela Mahomed, wrote to Mufamadi and two other senior MPs – Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and transport committee chairwoman Ruth Bhengu – asking them to clarify media reports suggesting possible conflicts of interest.
Mahomed said she would table a report before the committee at its next sitting, and it would then have to decide whether or not to launch an investigation into any or all of the MPs.
Mufamadi is adamant no conflict of interests exists.
“The company operates and continues to operate. It’s not doing business because I am a public representative,” he said.
- Weekend Argus