Zizi Kodwa, head of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office at Luthuli House, is a close friend and associate of Bosasa’s flashy spin doctor and director, Papa Leshabane.
A series of photos from Leshabane’s Facebook account reveal the proximity between him and one of Ramaphosa’s closest advisers. Both men confirmed they have been friends for more than a decade.
Leshabane and other Bosasa executives, including CEO Gavin Watson, have been directly implicated in Bosasa’s reign of corruption at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.
In a secret video recording exposed by former henchman Angelo Agrizzi, Leshabane is seen holding a bag of cash which, according to Agrizzi, was used to bribe correctional services officials and journalists.
While Watson prefers to live in the shadows, Leshabane has a vast network of friends and contacts which include politicians, journalists and business people. He is Bosasa’s public face and is reportedly known for entertaining guests at sports events with expensive liquor.
Kodwa deflected questions over the friendship on Saturday, which stands in stark contrast to comments he made to News24 in the capacity of acting national spokesperson for the ANC, that Bosasa “ran the country like an underworld, like a mafia”.
From the Facebook pictures, it is apparent that both Kodwa and Leshabane were in Russia for the World Cup final in July 2018.
On July 14, 2018, Leshabane posted a picture of Kodwa, tagging a Moscow hotel, with the hashtags “#bestdressedmaninmoscow” and “#erengkobomongwaneng”, which loosely translated means “put on a blanket”.
Kodwa is wearing what appears to be a blanket draped over his shoulders in the Basotho fashion.
The following day, Leshabane posted pictures from his seat in the stands of the Luzhiki Stadium where the FIFA World Cup final was played between France and Croatia.
France won the match 4-2.
In response to questions over who funded Kodwa’s trip to Russia, he said it “had nothing to do with him [Leshabane]”.
“I have known Papa for more than a decade, he is my friend and our friends and friendships has nothing [to do] with positions,” he said in response to detailed questions over whether Leshabane had ever offered him any gift in return for information.
“I also want to assure you that I don’t pay any of my friends to be friends,” Leshabane said.
News24 has also previously revealed that Leshabane has a close relationship with MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela, who is married to ANC national chair Gwede Mantashe’s daughter, Nombasa.
On March 3, 2018, Leshabane posted a picture of himself and Kodwa with National Lotteries Commission marketing and communications manager, and former journalist, Ndivhuho Mafela, seemingly outside the Michelangelo Hotel.
The post is hash-tagged “#respect” and “funeralthangs”. It was posted hours after Kaizer Chiefs lost to Orlando Pirates, which Kodwa vented over on Twitter the same afternoon.
Chiefs lost 3-1 to Pirates.
According to Mafela’s LinkedIn page, he worked as a politics and parliamentary reporter at the Sunday Times between 2005 and 2009, before joining eNCA between 2009 and 2011. Since 2011, Mafela has not worked as a journalist.
While at the Sunday Times, Mafela in November 2008 co-authored a report that revealed how Kgwerano Asset Finance, a Bosasa subsidiary of which Leshabane is a director, allegedly paid R798 006.02 to settle the balance owed by then-correctional services minister Ngconde Balfour on a luxury VW Touareg 4X4.
Mafela authored another article about Balfour and Bosasa in February 2009, shortly before leaving the newspaper.
“For the record, Zizi and Ndivhuho are my friends of many years. We meet when we meet for a variety of reasons. I also want to assure you that I do not pay any of my friends to be friends with me and I have never paid either one [Kodwa or Mafela] any money for being my friend or for any information,” Leshabane said.
Mafela said: “I have known both Mr Kodwa and Mr Leshabane for over 15 years now. Both of them are my friends and as friends we see each other from time to time. I do not have any business relationship with either of them, so therefore issues of payments, gifts and exchange of information do not arise as there is no benefit both can derive from myself.”
Kodwa did not answer questions over whether he had questioned Leshabane over allegations of grand corruption at Bosasa, or whether he had confronted his friend over the allegations against him and his company.
“Law enforcement agencies must act without fear or favour, we need to [restore the] credibility of our state organs,” Kodwa said.
Kodwa also deflected questions over the friendship being potentially problematic, considering Kodwa’s past and present positions in the ANC.
It was also pointed out to Kodwa that allegations of corruption surrounding Bosasa have been in the public domain since at least 2009, when the Mail and Guardian first published details of Bosasa’s correctional services tender rigging, and alleged bribes paid to former correctional services top brass, Linda Mti and Patrick Gillingham.
Gillingham and Mti, along with former Bosasa executives, including Agrizzi who has given extensive testimony at the Zondo commission, were arrested last week and charged in connection with four correctional services tenders which were irregularly awarded between 2004 and 2005, and for bribes paid to secure the same contracts.
“The ANC supports the work of the various commissions. Individuals must be held accountable,” was all he would say.
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