DA wants Jacob Zuma summoned over North West cattle donation
Johannesburg - A North West businessman, whose company was allegedly used as a conduit to deliver cattle to politicians, including 24 Nguni cattle in 2016 to then president Jacob Zuma, has denied all allegations.
Derrick Montshwe’s company, Agridelight, was awarded a three-year contract worth R650 million to be the implementing agent for rural, environmental and agricultural development programmes in North West in 2014.
On Monday, he appeared before the portfolio committee on economic development, environment, tourism, agriculture and rural development in Mahikeng and under oath denied all the allegations made against the company, including that he delivered sheep and cattle to a farm owned by former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
The DA in North West described Montshwe as a hostile agent who was allegedly protecting Zuma and Mahumapelo. Montshwe was summoned by the portfolio committee led by Bitsa Lenkopane to respond to allegations that he, through his company, delivered the cattle to Zuma at his Nkandla homestead in October 2016.
The DA now wants the committee to summon Zuma to appear before it.
Montshwe was also asked to respond to an allegation that he paid R500000 for a cosmetic rhinoplasty for former North West agriculture MEC Manketsi Tlhape. It was also alleged that Montshwe paid an undisclosed amount of money to Tlhape to help acquire a franchise for a pizza outlet in Mahikeng.
Other allegations included that Montshwe had delivered sheep and cattle to a farm owned by Mahumapelo. He was also accused of having provided funding to Mahumapelo to allow him to acquire two McDonald’s franchises in Mahikeng, which are registered under his wife’s name.
Montshwe was also expected to give details of other politicians who allegedly benefited from the scheme.
Lenkopane said: “He has given the committee access to probe his personal and business accounts, saying that would prove that no such transactions took place. Mr Montshwe also undertook to give a written reply to deny allegations that he transported a herd of cattle to Zuma. “The committee members will then be given an opportunity to discuss his response on those allegations.”
Despite Montshwe’s denials, the DA’s Jacqueline Theologo wants the committee to widen its investigations.
“Mr Montshwe disclosed insufficient information on the developments that led to the alleged irregularities surrounding the contract between his company and the then Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development.
“The DA views Mr Montshwe as nothing other than a hostile agent summoned by the committee to protect the implicated beneficiaries of this contract,” Theologo said.
She was adamant that Montshwe had “deliberately misled the committee” by his alleged omission of critical information, saying the DA would further request information and documentation in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act on the Agridelight saga and all who benefited from this contract. “We will further write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on agriculture and rural development, Bitsa Lenkopane, to summon Jacob Zuma, Supra Mahumapelo and Manketsi Tlhape to respond to the allegations levelled against them,” Theologo said.
Lenkopane did not rule out the possibility of summoning Zuma, Mahumapelo and Tlhape, but said Theologo must make a strong case for it before the petitions committee.
Lenkopane said no adverse findings had been made against the three in the auditor-general’s report, adding: “The A-G did not implicate any of them in wrongdoings. The A-G only said the department had failed to account for its assets.
“So we want the department and Agridelight to meet and resolve their internal disputes. Mr Montshe told us he did not furnish the department with a ‘close-out report’ because the department did not pay him.”