Apologise for what? Mthunzi Mdwaba not backing down in R500 million bribery scandal

Former Productivity South Africa chairperson and Thuja Capital CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba during an interview on eNCA. Picture: Screengrab

Former Productivity South Africa chairperson and Thuja Capital CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba during an interview on eNCA. Picture: Screengrab

Published Nov 13, 2023


The man who dropped a bombshell last week, implicating Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, as well as the ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula in an alleged grand scale tender bribe, on Monday insisted that he stands by his words.

In a recent interview with Newzroom Afrika, former Productivity South Africa chairperson and Thuja Capital CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba said the three Cabinet ministers approached him, through emissaries, demanding “gateway fees” of R500 million, which would be 10% of a R5 billion Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) deal, which he had secured as seed capital to create employment for 250,000 people, in a jobs scheme.

Following Mdwaba’s revelations, the accused ministers have threatened legal action, while Mbalula opened the crimen injuria case at the Sandton police station. The ministers and Mbalula want Mdwaba to apologise.

Speaking to broadcaster eNCA on Monday, Mdwaba said he was unfazed by the threats of legal action, and the ramifications of his revelations. He claimed that he had solid evidence to back his claims in a court of law, and he would not apologise.

Former Productivity South Africa chairperson and Thuja Capital CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba. File Picture: Supplied

“I have solid proof, yes. I have solid proof,” Mdwaba insisted.

“I stand by my statement and in due course I shall also be writing letters back to say quite frankly I fail to understand why I must apologise for something that is true, and for something that I believe,” he said.

“If people what to do (something) then they must do what they have to do. I have also said on other platforms – I am not driven by popularity contest. I think that is the one thing that always made me very controversial with people. I do what I feel I must do. I am happy to go against the stream any time of the day. I have done it so many times in my life and I will continue.”

Mdwaba said he has received massive support from general South Africans, amassing more than 7,000 new followers on social media platform X. However, the outspoken Mdwaba said he has also attracted massive criticism, with many calling him a “sellout”.

Reacting to Mdwaba’s allegations, ActionSA said it would write to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that he tasks the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the allegations that three of his Cabinet ministers have been implicated in the R5 billion tender bribe.

To prove that he was committed to the “renewal” process and accountability, ActionSA demanded that Ramaphosa fire Nxesi and suspend the other two ministers, pending the outcome of a further probe into their alleged involvement.

The party indicated that Section 2(2) of the SIU and Special Tribunals Act empowered Ramaphosa to proclaim and gazette an investigation of this nature without further delay.

Nxesi on Wednesday said he intended to firmly address Mdwaba’s “false and defamatory statements”, adding that the R5bn of public funds in question will not be released to Mdwaba’s company.

“This is false and without foundation; not one iota of evidence is provided, in what is clearly a self-seeking attempt to divert attention from the issues around the R5bn Thuja scheme,” Nxesi said.

Mbalula last week laid crimen injuria charges against Mdwaba and he also sent a lawyers letter to Mdwaba to retract the allegations, failing which he threatened to take the businessman to court.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File Picture: Supplied

Nzimande said on Friday the allegations against him were false and defamatory.

He has asked Mdwaba to stop making allegations against him and to apologise. He has given Mdwaba seven days to do so, failing which, he will take legal action against him.

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena/Independent Media

In a statement, Nzimande’s office said the statements were not only false, but have also caused substantial harm to the minister’s reputation and wellbeing.

Godongwana has also ordered Mdwaba to retract the allegations.