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The Case of Sfiso Buthelezi and State Capture at PRASA

Sfiso Norbert Buthelezi joined the armed wing of the African National Congress, Umkhonto weSizwe, in 1981 and was arrested in 1983. He served eight years on Robben Island until his release in 1991. Buthelezi sacrificed his youth for all our freedom. Then in 1994 he became Special Advisor to the now criminally convicted former president Jacob Zuma. At that point Zuma was MEC for Economic Affairs and Tourism in KwaZulu-Natal and accepting bribes from Shabir Shaik.


Buthelezi’s career as a businessman and politician destroyed his reputation and integrity because of his role at PRASA.


While he contributed to the liberation struggle his conduct has not only undermined his reputation and credibility but brings into question his suitability to serve as a Member of Parliament and as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations in Parliament. His current position of trust is incompatible with his alleged corruption. He should be removed from this position.


Here is why:

PRASA AND PEOPLE PAY THE PRICE: Multiple investigations, including those by the Public Protector, National Treasury, and Werksmans Attorneys, have revealed systemic corruption and maladministration at PRASA under Buthelezi’s watch, with billions of irregular expenditures and a staggering level of corruption identified.


DODGY PROCUREMENT PROCESSES: During his tenure as PRASA’s board chairperson from 2009 to 2014, Buthelezi allowed a network of companies and businesspeople to bypass the procurement process, leading to the breakdown of PRASA’s infrastructure and service, negatively affecting over half a million commuters.


FLAUNTING THE LAWS HE IS SUPPOSED TO UPHOLD: Despite his role as chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations in Parliament, responsible for allocating funding and ensuring compliance with financial management and procurement legislation, Buthelezi stands accused of violating these laws through multiple forensic investigations into corruption and maladministration at PRASA.


REVOLVING DOOR BETWEEN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS: Buthelezi’s involvement with Makana Investment Corporation, which has subsidiaries and shares in various companies, including Cadiz Holdings and Sebenza Forwarding and Shipping, raises concerns as these companies have been implicated in benefiting from irregular PRASA contracts during Buthelezi’s tenure.


CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Buthelezi’s alleged failure to disclose his interests and conflicts of interest, particularly regarding Makana Investment Corporation and Cadiz, raises serious suspicions of improper profit from PRASA contracts.


MORE IMPROPER PROFITS: The Swifambo contract, a corrupt deal worth R3.5 billion for the supply of locomotives, implicates Buthelezi through his connection to Makana Investment Corporation, which holds a majority stake in Sebenza Forwarding and Shipping, a company that allegedly profited from multiple PRASA contracts without proper disclosure of Buthelezi’s interest.


NEPOTISM: The Swifambo scandal also involves Buthelezi’s brother’s company, Inala Shipping, which reportedly profited from the contract. This further raises concerns about potential nepotism and corruption within Buthelezi’s network.


Zackie Achmat and #UniteBehind demand action

Given the serious allegations and findings against Buthelezi, we demand that Parliament removes him from his position of trust until a full investigation into all the allegations has been completed. This is necessary to uphold the principles of accountability, professional ethics, and the efficient use of state resources, as outlined in Section 195 of the South African Constitution.


We demand that Parliament uphold their constitutional duty and take the proper action by suspending Sfiso Buthelezi, and that he be held accountable.


ZA_Sfiso Buthelezi_Fact sheet
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