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ANC denies benefitting from Afro 4000 loco contract

ANC denies benefitting from Afro 4000 loco contract

The African National Congress (ANC) has rejected allegations it benefitted from a contract involving the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) controversial Afro 4000 diesel locomotives.

According to an article by News24, Prasa Chairperson, Popo Molefe, claimed in a series of court documents that the suppliers of the R600-million Spanish built trains, which caused controversy last year after it was discovered that all of the thirteen units exceeded height limits, had instructed the paying of R80-million to entities at the behest of an Angolan businesswoman, who had insisted that ten percent of the tender be paid to the ruling party.

It has been alleged that the woman, named by Rapport in January as Maria Gomes, had admitted to being friends with President Jacob Zuma, and also that the President frequently visited her at her Sandton home.

Molefe’s also claims that Gomes had been interacting via email with axed Prasa CEO Lucky Montana since December 2013, with the latter having provided her with information about some of the rail parastatal’s other contracts.

“Ms Gomes also told him that she knew the bid to supply locomotives to Prasa was worth billions and she could not understand why ten percent of the value of the bid could not be paid to the African National Congress,” an extract from Molefe’s documents read.

He claimed that the Managing Director of Swifambo Rail Leasing, Auswell Mashaba, had ordered him to pay some of the money received from Prasa to “a specific account” of another businessman with supposed Prasa links, although Mashaba had admitted not knowing anything about the person’s identity.

The payments were then made to a company in which Gomes serves as a director and where one of the partners, George Sabelo, is alleged to have business relations with one of the President’s sons.

In December, Molefe revealed he had filled papers in the Johannesburg High Court claiming Swifambo lacked the necessary experience when it received the tender to source the locomotive in 2012.

Speaking in a statement, ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party had received no funding from the companies in questions, and that the allegations mere attempts to discredit the party.

“The ANC has not received any such funds from the companies concerned and condemns in the harshest possible terms rumour mongering and the use of the name of the organisation between individuals in their personal deals with no mandate from the party,” he said.

“We appreciates that the matter is before the courts and will attentively watch the outcomes of this process. We reserve our rights to take action against those who impugn the reputation and integrity of the African National Congress”.

Despite the locomotive’s height concerns and reports of brake problems, as well as one unit being completely written off in an accident near Kimberly in August, the Railways Safety Regulator announced in December it had given Prasa the green light to resume testing.