What the Geoff ‘I didn’t do it’ Makhubo Story Tells Us All

On Friday, at the State Capture Commission, South Africans had a chance to see Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo for the man that he is.

I had the misfortunate of learning of Geoff Makhubo’s antics long before, when as Mayor of Johannesburg a forensic investigation began to turn up frightening information.

It revealed that Makhubo had earned over R30 million from Regiments Capital for managing their strategic relationship with the City of Johannesburg while, for part of the time, he was the MMC for Finance in the City entrusted to conduct oversight on such contracts.

What emerged from investigations and the Commission, was that Makhubo worked hard for this fee with what appears to be a concerted effort to safeguard the financial interests of Regiments in their ability to score and maintain long-term lucrative contracts paid by the City with public monies.

His previous defence that he had resigned from his own company in 2011 was false as he continued to manage the affairs of the company and profit from its lucrative relationship with Regiments.

Testimony under oath is a different affair to presenting misleading information to the media and the public.

Makhubo could not, or would not, concede in the Commission that he was conflicted when he sat in Mayoral Committee and Council Meetings which approved these contractual arrangements with Regiments. He claimed to have never seen a ‘cheat sheet’ which Regiments allegedly sent him with clear instructions on how their bidding was to be done in the City.

Makhubo appeared to feign amnesia about Regiments offering an unsecured loan of R290 million, from the City’s fund, for which Regiments and he benefitted from by charging Denel and the City when it was repaid after I had to write to the Minister of Public Enterprises because Denel had defaulted on the loan.

These revelations offer insights into who leads the City of Johannesburg, and the largest local government budget in South Africa, exceeding R65 billion.

These matters do not surprise me, and it is worth noting that the Commission is yet to hear of the contractual relationships Makhubo enjoyed with EOH and its subsidiaries, who have collectively benefitted in excess of R1 billion from City tenders.

What horrifies me is our criminal justice system, and not because of the obvious.

Furthermore, ActionSA’s efforts to initiate a private prosecution against Makhubo, have resulted in responses from the NPA indicating that neither the HAWKS nor the NPA have any record of such a criminal case having been laid.

When information first began to emerge about Makhubo’s alleged corruption, I personally laid criminal charges on behalf of the City of Johannesburg at the Johannesburg Central Police Station on 10 December 2018.

Here is the link to one of the many news reports of this fact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjBGDAd7wpQ with the following case number: 464/12/2018. 

What does it say when, nearly two years after the filing of these criminal charges, our criminal justice system cannot even locate the case?

It suggests that the Mayor of the largest City in South Africa has a prima facie case of corruption that he should answer for, and yet two years have been allowed to go by without the wheels of justice turning.

It suggests that Geoff Makhubo, when considering the ANC’s approach to these matters, will likely continue as the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg until the local government elections in 2021. As to what Mr Makhubo will do to occupy his time, you and I are left to imagine.

It is also worth noting that Geoff Makhubo did not get to be the Mayor of Johannesburg alone, not with the 44% of the vote the ANC achieved in 2016.

Knowing what was known of Makhubo and his reported relationships with Regiments, parties like the Patriotic Alliance, COPE, IFP and UDM supported him. Councillors from the DA, between 3 and 8 depending on who you ask due to the secret ballot, gave Makhubo the decisive votes needed to make him the Mayor of Johannesburg.

When Makhubo was given one last chance to pass his budget before the City was put under administration, the DA gave him the votes he needed. One cannot, therefore, escape the irony of seeing these political parties protesting outside the Commission on Friday with their placards, expressing their outrage at what they had ‘learnt’ of the man they supported.

Between our criminal justice system, and our current political parties, it is becoming apparent to many South Africans that the hope must lie somewhere else. Our criminal justice system will never be fixed when it requires the proverbial turkeys setting the dinner table.

It is equally emerging to many South Africans that they should trust what politicians do and not just what they say, because those who protest holding placards today, supported the election of a man with a lot to answer for.  

The truth is that South Africa can only be fixed when South Africans unite. It needs those who have given up on voting to return to the voting stations next year. It needs those who have never registered to go and put their names on the voters’ roll. It needs those who have supported political parties that have failed us, collectively, to try something new.

This is why ActionSA’s rallying call is for South Africans to Act As One for a country that we so dearly love, and to Act As One against those hellbent on destroying it.