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Zille’s web of lies

Transparency and accountability are vital pillars of democracy. Without transparency there cannot be accountability and without accountability transparency is redundant. Our Constitution recognises and entrenches principles of transparency and accountability in government. Section 41(1) (c) provides that “spheres of government and all organs of state within each sphere must provide effective, transparent, accountable and coherent government for the Republic as a whole”.

But it seems South African politics are on an evolutionary trajectory from a practice of spin-doctoring the truth, to a culture of blatant and incessant lying without consequence. Blatant dishonesty by public representatives has become a methodical practice. While the practice long became synonymous with the ruling party, it appears the opposition’s roof is leaking heavily too.

The Democratic Alliance, as the official opposition party, is indispensable to building a strong democracy. The question then is: What happens when the opposition becomes caught up in the same web of blatant lies and deceit? Consider the following chain of events:

[1] On 05.03.2011 — The Sunday Times published a story alleging that the influential Gupta brothers often “bragged” about giving money to both the opposition and the ruling party. The brothers allegedly donated to a number of parties including the Democratic Alliance. According to the report the DA refused to answer to the allegations, stating that it was against the party’s policy to disclose the identity of party donors.

[2] On 27.01.2013 — The Weekend Argus ran a front-page story saying the DA allegedly ”took money from the Guptas”. The report stated that DA leader Helen Zille had allegedly gone into the Gupta compound and emerged with a substantial cheque.

[3] On 29.01.2013 — Zille responded to the allegations in her weekly newsletter. She said the DA had received a donation from Stefan Nel, an executive at one of the Gupta companies. Although she admitted to being invited to receive the cheque at the Gupta household in Saxonwold, she said it “was a personal cheque from his personal bank account. It did NOT come from a Gupta company, nor from the Guptas, but it was handed over at their home … the DA subsequently thanked the donor … and, because we had been guests at the Gupta’s home, our fundraising department included our standard letter of thanks to the Guptas, even though the donation had not come from them”. Zille makes no mention of an electronic transfer.

[4] On the same day (29.01.2013) — The New Age, in response to Zille, reported that the alleged donor, Nel, had denied making donations in his personal capacity. According to the report, a donation receipt issued in his name was subsequently corrected. The report included photocopies of a letter addressed to Atul Gupta (“Managing Director, Sahara Computer (Pty) Ltd”) and a receipt for R300 000.

[5] On the 30.01.2013 — The Independent Online reported that Zille had shed more light on the donation. According to the report, Zille — addressing to reporters at parliament — did not deny the letter but said “she was under the impression the cheque came from Sahara and not Nel in his personal capacity”. (Very different from the above.)

[6] On 02.02.2013 — DA chief executive Jonathan Moakes released a statement apparently to clarify the facts about the donations. According to the statement the DA had been assured by the supposed donor (Nel) that the donations were indeed in his personal capacity. The statement says “click here for the correspondence” but there is no link! It includes a link to scans of two cheques drawn by a Mr SJD Nel. Moakes concludes that “[t]he bottom line is: the DA has received donations from Stefan Nel, an executive at Sahara computers, in his personal capacity”. (Now, go back to number 5)

[7] On the 3.02.2013 — Zille tweeted something totally different (see some tweets captured here). She said that she did receive a donation from Sahara, allegedly intended by the Guptas as a bribe. She said she had accepted the money but was “not bribable”. In her own words, she said: (a) “I asked for a donation. Not as a bribe. I received it as a donation and treated it as such. What is so hard to understand?” (b) “In 2009 there was no reason not to ask for a donation from Sahara computers. The Gupta controversies arose in 2010” and (c) “ … we did nothing wrong in accepting the money as a donation. The Guptas’ intentions are irrelevant. We were not bribed.” (For your satisfaction, I have uploaded some of the tweets here.)

For me there are inconsistencies so glaring they are insulting to any comprehending person: (i) Why did Zille go to the Gupta compound and what was discussed? (ii) If there were two cheques from Nel, why did the DA address the receipt for R300 000 to Sahara for the attention of “Mr Atul Gupta”? (iii) On her Twitter page Zille admits to accepting money allegedly intended as a bribe. What money is she referring to?



  1. Truth be known Truth be known 6 February 2013

    If both the ruling party and the opposition are in the pockets of big business, there is no opposition. There is absolutely no chance for the average South African. They are doomed.

  2. Mr. Direct Mr. Direct 6 February 2013

    @Brad – I have said before in other strings that I do not think Ms. Zille has handled this situaiton very well. I think pushing the concept that the Gupta family were receiving benefits from the government through New Age, and tying this back to party contributions for the ANC is where she has gone wrong. You cannot take moral high ground when you are just as guilty as the other.

    The accepting of donations is not illegal, and not exactly immoral either if the party can only survive in this mode. Transparency is the key, but based on how the ANC acted over the FNB advertisments, making party funding transparent may not benefit anybody except the ruling party, pushing us further towards a one party state.

    I thought that after your opening statement about politics in general, this piece seems a little one sided, considering the Gupta family also contribute towards the ANC,

    Remember the initial problem relates to New Age breaskfasts indirectly subsidised by the government at R1M each, even though they charge for tickets. In addition, SABC gives them free advertising. Surely no matter how badly Ms. Zille has managed to tie herself in knots, the issue of these breakfasts still stands.

  3. Dave Harris Dave Harris 6 February 2013

    Yup, Zille’s “opposition” politics is all about saying one thing and doing EXACTLY the opposite!!

  4. The Naked Worker The Naked Worker 6 February 2013

    The only political parties that are independent are some of the very small ones. The bigger ones have individuals doing the bidding of vested interests.

    Why did the African Christian Democratic Party try and protect South Africans against genetically modified (GM) foods and crops in parliament 10 to 12 years ago, but members of the ANC and DA stymied them. Some good investigative journalism into that should be undertaken.

    Why are some members of the DA supportive of fracking for shale gas in the Karoo?

  5. Tofolux Tofolux 6 February 2013

    @Brad, I dont know y u r so surprised that Zille is inherently dishonest. Evidence proves that not only do we have a compulsive liar in our midst but also that the public in particular has been systematically misled. This is ironical when we have a civil society that is active and a fourth estate that is confrontational to say the least. Also, why is it that we havent seen one picture drawn of the litany of lies and the insulting language that has been used against our citizenry especially when this citizenry is black in general but African in particular. The behaviour and attitude has been illogical to say the least. It doesnt speak to building a society that is cohesive or instilling or portraying particular morals and values. What we have seen, this with the permission of the most surprising collaborators, is nothing short of creating or mntainig the apartheid divisions that we had pre 1994. In fact, if truth be told, the division of communities is at its worst, this especially in the WCape. And yet, not one word is written and not one (satirical) painting is shown to highlight this hypocrisy that is so “Madame Zille”.

  6. michael michael 6 February 2013

    Brad, we are drowning in a sea of corruption and here you over analyse a small donation to the DA. Please analyse the word perspective and apply it.

  7. Lennon Lennon 6 February 2013

    This is one big mess and Zille certainly has no shortage of egg on her face.


    Time to swing my vote somewhere else again.

  8. Skerminkel Skerminkel 6 February 2013

    Yes, Zille has some egg on her face and handled the matter poorly. We will leave it to her to defend herself and party.
    The fact remains that there are no proof, actually, not even any sensible allegations, that the DA was bribed or that the Guptas received favour in return for their money.
    That is quite different from the incestuous relationship with the Guptas apparently have with the ANC regime.
    It does seem like not only the news media, but also bloggers, are only too keen to jump after the herrings. Ol’ Mac must have a big grin on his face every time he reads an opinion like this.
    I fear Mr Cibane, in all his legal wisdom and academic pedigree, fears to dissect the SOE’s forced relationship with TNA.

  9. bernpm bernpm 6 February 2013

    No debate here. Just a string of personal and emotional utterances .

  10. Liege Jordan Liege Jordan 6 February 2013

    So the DA accepted a donation a couple of years ago so what. When did The New Age and the Guptas association with Zuma become open knowledge, since then I suppose. Since then the DA have refused further donations from any sources associated with the Guptas. I think this puts the DA on the moral high ground. Did any corruption arise from Gupta donations to the DA, there is no evidence of this. So my point to all of these commentators don’t try and make dirt stick where it will not. You cannot on the evidence begin to reduce the DA to the level of corruption that the ANC finds itself happily in right now. Sure the DA have publicly set a high standard for themselves but if you have real proof of wrong doing in the DA then put up or shut up. The real test is what the DA does if any of their members are actually found doing corruption. Now might I actually read what boring repeated stuff Brad actually wrote.

  11. Dillon Dillon 6 February 2013

    Helen’s dishonestly is a damn shame. However, it is still imperative that we foster a strong opposition in this country. Politics are never gonna be squeeky clean, especially if a ruling party plays as dirty as the ANC. My vote stays with Helen Zille and the DA and i hope that we did not lose too many as a result of these embarassing developments.

  12. Andre du Plessis Andre du Plessis 6 February 2013

    Well, what a web of lies! I will never stand for another politicians pontificating again.

  13. ntozakhona ntozakhona 7 February 2013

    Mr Direct

    The breakfasts are not an issue at all. The parastatals have an obligation to contribute to the transformation of South Africa and bringing live information which is not poisoned with biased editorialising is critical to an informed society.

    Zille had access to the platform and initially used it but chose to sommersault when she realised that the platform is exposing her as having nothing to offer South Africa but an anti-ANC rhetoric. She then went for the New Age which has built itself as an alternative voice, and of course her duplicity was exposed by the newspaper, Cibane.

    She also sought to posture as someone who regards party funding as corrupt. The ANC is advocating for a law that seeks to compel all parties to disclose their sources of funding and the DA fervently oppsed to it, what are they hiding? The Guptas are correct in funding all political parties proportional to their support, that is how democracy is assisted by business.

  14. Mr. Direct Mr. Direct 7 February 2013


    So you are saying that the press reports about political pressure to sponsor these events are lies, and that the parastatals are receiving good value for money with the sponsorships? I think that the whole concept is wrong based on the fact it is

    The reason for Ms. Zille pulling out of her appearance is for her to explain, which she has done repeatedly I guess. Your commentry that she has nothing to offer is your opinion, and I really do not care if she does or not. Being anti ANC is all I want from her anyway. Somebody with a voice that will challenge the injustices we see in government every day.

    There are two reasons I can think of why the DA would want to hide their funders:

    1. The party will be funded by whites and white organisations which will undo all of their efforts to position themselves as a mixed race party. This will be thrown in their faces all the time by the other parties, because we all know that white is bad.

    2. The funding may dry up because noboby wants to contribute to the opposition, especially if they deal with government. The FNB bullying testifies to this fact.

    In saying this though, I would want party funding to be transparent, because I think it will show who is pulling the strings, and this is important…

  15. Mr. Direct Mr. Direct 7 February 2013

    Sorry – did not finish one sentence there:

    I think that the whole concept is wrong based on the fact it is R1M give or take per breakfast, of which the profits on the event, plus the ticket receipts go to a private company.

    Surely the SABC could arrange their own TV shows (after all this is what they are supposed to do anyway) without throwing millions of Rands at the Gupta Family.

  16. MrK MrK 7 February 2013

    Truth be known,

    ” If both the ruling party and the opposition are in the pockets of big business, there is no opposition. ”

    And that is exactly how the owners of De Beers want it. As long as no one nationalises the people’s mines, they win and keep draining profits out of the country to Switzerland.

    Natural resources should never be privately owned. Public resources must be owned by the state, or forever politicians will be bribed to keep things this way.

  17. Sean Sean 7 February 2013

    The DA does not have access to our tax money which the ANC treats as their personal bank account.

    Yes, it is difficult to maintain the moral high ground when those you compete with continually display a complete lack of morals.

    Should we be more critical of a single inconclusive connection with a corrupt source of funds by the DA or of the endemic dishonesty and corruption evident within the ANC. I know what I think!

  18. ntozakhona ntozakhona 8 February 2013

    Mr Direct

    Though it hurts to have fellow South Africans think the way you do in the 21st century , I appreciate your honesty.

    The DA is a colonial ( white in your parlance) party funded by colonial funders with a colonial agenda. That is the reason, you and I agree, that it is opposed to transparency on party funding. I also think it also because its funding is linked to tenders in the Midvaal and the Western Cape.

    Parastatals are monopolies as DA supporters like to remind us but they too need to be run on sound business principles. The Guptas like all crafty entrepreneurs saw a gap ( a huge one in this instance) in the market and moved on to close it. The government neeeded to relay its information to the public in an innovative and attention cathing way and parastatals are state owned and have an interest in the correct infornmation reaching cosumers, and wala the New Age is in business, Ayeye, the colonised have mastered business! Run Zille Run!


  19. ntozakhona ntozakhona 8 February 2013


    Mr Direct. Despite your PW Botha type thoughtless inherited anti-ANC disposition, one notes that you understand the need for party funding transparency.

    The ANC Colonialism of a special type theory has led it to the correct conclusion that we have a common destiny. As the democratic projects unfold anti-ANC dogma is not going to sustain itself, it is going to be relegated to the lunatic fringe and real ideas will just continue to truimph.

  20. Mr. Direct Mr. Direct 8 February 2013


    I am not anti ANC, I just cannot accept that the government of the day are more interested in lining their pockets than improving the life of their supporters. If they change they way they waste money, and start really delivering the change that they promised, they have my vote (that is if I am still allowed to vote with my colonial ancestry). Until then, I will criticise them at every opportunity which is my democratic right I may add.

    I do not know about you, but I would prefer that Eskom stop increasing rates above inflation, rather than facilitate that Mr. Zuma can say something stupid on television for everyone to hear. Maybe this is just my PW Botha way of thinking…

  21. ntozakhona ntozakhona 8 February 2013

    Mr Direct, I was merely restating what you read about being anti-ANC. As for Eskom I would rather it provide me an opprtunity to make up my mind if Zuma is stupid. From what I have heared he is certainly not, maybe that is why the DA is irritated and agitated. I have also seen that Zille has nothing to say except to say ANC this, ANC that ad infinitum.

    I must unlike the many robotic responses one gets from your fellow anti-ANC crowd, your arguments are reasoned though I differ.

  22. Jonas Jonas 9 February 2013

    Politicians make me sick. It is time for us, citizens of the World, to unite and to kick out these leeches.

  23. Chris Chris 9 February 2013

    Brad if you applied this “forensic” approach to the utterances of most of our esteemed cabinet ministers you would have enough material to fill a billion columns. But well done for picking up these inconsistencies over a few hundred grand – you must be pleased to have finally tripped up HZ and her party of thieves and villains! Keep up the good work!

  24. Mr. Direct Mr. Direct 9 February 2013


    I appreciate you afford me my opinion, and I have no illusions: my opinion is not shared by many / most / all.

    You see, your answer raises contradiction in my mind. What is the difference between our example Eskom, and the banksters FNB?

    Who decides what opinion or vision is advertised? How can one company be branded traitors, while others are expected to contribute millions for social awareness? If companies hold this responsibility, then surely they can also decide what opinion they want to be associated with?

    And just to clarify, I did not say Mr. Zuma is stupid, I said that he says stupid things.

  25. Rory Short Rory Short 9 February 2013

    Political parties receiving donations from any person or entity is quite okay under our present system. The question that should be asked is, is the donor buying particular favours for him or herself through the donation? If so that is corruption clear and simple. So whether the DA received donations from the Guptas is actually irrelevant, what is relevant is, did they gain special favours through their donation? I do not know. I have seen no media coverage that enlightens me on this.

  26. Mariana de Leuca Mariana de Leuca 9 February 2013

    Brad Cibane questions the apparent inconsistencies in Helen Zille’s explanation but completely ignores other inconsistencies:

    Zille has said all along that the DA received four donations amounting to R400,000 in total from Stephen Nel in his private capacity. She has given a good reason as to why she initially believed the donations were from Sahara.

    According to the report in The New Age, the donor (Stephen Nel) said that at no stage was there a handing over of cheques to Zille at the Gupta residence. To quote Stephen Nel “The first electronic funds (EFT) transfer was done by Sahara. The rest of the EFT’s were also made through Sahara”.

    The DA released copies of two cheques amounting to R200,000 and R100,000 drawn on the personal bank account of Stephen Nel during May 2009, made payable to the Democratic Alliance. There was a further EFT transfer of R100,000 from Ilandsite Investments in October 2010.

    The DA claim that they have copies of the correspondence with Stephen Nel which they are prepared to make public.

    Where did the copies of Nel’s personal cheques come from, or does Brad Cibane (and others) believe they are fakes?

  27. ntozakhona ntozakhona 10 February 2013

    Mr Direct

    Let us not split hairs, stupid and saying supid things – I still differ.

    The FNB through its website advertisement entered the political fray boldly and decidedly. It scripted adverts for young children attacking the SA government and once you do that you are inviting an even more spirited counter attack from those more adept at the game.

    Eskom on the other hand sponsored a public political platform available to everyone. They never offered any political opinions.

    Indeed your views seem well considered hence are not a repetition of the dogma I am used to in this forum.

  28. Tofolux Tofolux 11 February 2013

    @Mariana, Zille confirmed that she went to the residence. Also, if this money is so tainted why doesnt Zille just hand the money back? ie if this donation was so principled, open and transparent why not give it back?

  29. Mariana de Leuca Mariana de Leuca 11 February 2013

    @ Tofolux

    Helen Zille has never denied going to the Gupta residence. Remember at the time the donations were received from Stephen Nel (2009 – 2010), there was no controversy surrounding the Gupta family, and Stephen Nel was introduced to the DA as a senior executive of Sahara Computers, a legitimate business concern. It was only towards the end of 2010 that rumours of alleged corrupt practices concerning the Guptas started emerging, and the DA accepted no further donations from Stephen Nel.

    I do not know why Helen Zille / the DA does not intend returning the donation to Stephen Nel. I can only guess that the reason is because they still regard it as being a legitimate donation received from a private individual without any suggestion of bribery or political influence attached, and thus they are entitled to it (personally I feel they should return the donation as a matter of principle even though it was ligitimate). Helen Zille did contact Stephen Nel as recently as 28 January 2013, when he confirmed that he had given the money to the DA in his personal capacity because “he believes in what the DA stands for”.

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