OPINION: Supergrass Agrizzi

Johannesburg, Parktown. 24-01-2019 Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi collects his files after the commission was adjourned for the day. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

What are we to make of Angelo Agrizzi and his testimony at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture?

He has been on the stand for days, meticulously implicating literally dozens of people in a web of corruption, bribery, rent-seeking and manipulation, the magnitude of which rivals the revelations that emerged when the Gupta Leaks emails exploded into the public domain.

He has fingered politicians, elected officials, senior civil servants, senior members of the prosecution service, business people and journalists, all of whom are alleged to have taken bribes, in return for which his former employer, Bosasa, is alleged to have enjoyed virtually unlimited access to the levers of power, and consequently, the opportunity to pillage the public purse.

The self-righteous moral outrage of the various political parties as each new relevation implicates somebody else in the ruling ANC, is actually quite comical, considering that more than one of them have senior members who have also been implicated in the odd major scandal of late, but then again, it is an election year, so gratuitous political grandstanding is considered de rigueur.

Watching as Mr Agrizzi delivers testimony, it is easy to begin to question the veracity of what he is saying, particularly when, having provided painstaking detail about a particular event, he suddenly claims, in response to a request for clarification, “Chair, it was a long time ago, so I do not recall the precise date/amount/day/time/amount/person”.

But that would be a mistake, because it would mean that pretty much everything he has enunciated into the record, would be suspect.

Considering the magnitude of meticulousy assembled and annotated documentary evidence that he has submitted to the commission, it makes nonsense of what those who have been implicated, would have us believe: that it is a skillfully constructed pack of lies designed to discredit, among others, the ruling party.

As the various luminaries have been fingered by Mr Agrizzi, each has strenuously denied the allegations made, with much breast-beating about denial of constitutional rights and the right to due process.

What we have seen is a closing of the ranks by the ruling party, citing the admittedly legitimate but rather threadbare “innocent until proven guilty” canard.

What we have not seen, is a concerted rush by those who have been implicated to appear before the commission, and to render countervailing testimony that will debunk Mr Agrizzi’s damning assertions.

It is difficult to believe that the investigators and the evidence leaders at the Zondo Commission could have been so thoroughly duped that they would not have spotted the inconsistencies that must creep in to a constructed edifice of untruths of the magnitude of Mr Agrizzi’s testimony.

Occam’s Razor suggests that while Mr Agrizzi might not be able to produce every single piece of corroborating evidence to support his various allegations – perhaps the invoice for the Louis Vuitton handbag allegedly presented to Dudu Myeni stuffed with R300 000 – but the preponderence of physical evidence presented and read into the commission’s record thus far suggests that a great many people have a great deal about which to worry.

The elephant in the room is how President Cyril Ramaphosa deals with the calamitous fallout which these rapidly escalating revelations will engender for the ANC, with an election looming.