- LTE Consulting, a politically connected consulting firm, paid millions to EFF leader Julius Malema and various ANC structures.
- The company’s patronage appears to have secured political support for it in a botched Limpopo water project, and earn it favour in the awarding of lucrative government tenders.
- LTE received more than R345 million out of Ekurhuleni from contracts.
Politically connected businessman Thulani Majola has dispensed his largesse far and wide, and across political divides – his patronage spreading as both the political landscape and his own interests have become more diversified.
Since 2016, he has paid more than R14 million to various ANC entities. He has also paid more than R3 million to Santaclara Trading, a front company of EFF leader Julius Malema (see graph in Part 1 of the series).
Majola’s history of bankrolling the ANC predated his relationship with the EFF, but as the latter grew in political influence, so too did Majola’s financial support for Malema and his party.
Since the 2016 municipal elections made the EFF a kingmaker in Johannesburg and Tshwane, and demonstrated the party’s clout, Majola’s payments to Malema have tracked the party’s rise. Apart from the Malema company, he has made payments to a company linked to EFF secretary-general Marshal Dlamini, a key fixer in metros.
As recounted in Part I of this series, the EFF leadership came to his aid in Giyani, Limpopo, where his company was bogged down in a botched multibillion-rand water project.
Malema’s support did not prevent the project from eventually collapsing, but by that time Majola had shifted his focus.
He has honed in on local powerbrokers elsewhere, seemingly courting politicians wherever he does business. In KwaZulu-Natal, where he bagged a R100 million infrastructure assessment tender, he paid the provincial ANC – see Big money in KZN alongside.
Similarly, in Ekurhuleni, he has given money to the local ANC, which runs the metro.
Majola’s political connections have been openly on display before. A late 2019 photograph snapped at Mzwandile Masina’s 45th birthday party shows the Ekurhuleni mayor standing with, among others, ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni, Malema, and then-EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. Between Malema and Ndlozi, in a bowtie and dark blue dinner jacket, is a grinning Majola.
Thulani Majola, second from right, at a party along with politicians including Julius Malema, Mbuyiseni Nldozi, Mzwandile Masina and Tony Yengeni.
The EFF did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said a 2019 ban on amaBhungane remained “firmly” in place.
A spokesperson for the Ekurhuleni metro said the mayor did not have a close relationship with Majola.
The spokesperson said:
Mr Majola did not receive a personal invite to the executive mayor’s 45th birthday event. The mayor is a well-known public figure, and his birthday party attracted many patrons. It must be stated that there is a differentiation between knowing an individual and having a close relationship with someone.
AmaBhungane attempts get comment from ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe elicited no substantive response.
In earlier correspondence with amaBhungane, Majola and LTE admitted to R200 000 in payments to Santaclara that were reported on by the Sunday Times. But they denied knowing Santaclara was linked to Malema – only it sought donations for political T-shirts.
They also denied any further payments to Santaclara or any to DMM Media and Entertainment, the company linked to the EFF secretary-general.
Majola and LTE distanced themselves from allegations the EFF had lobbied on LTE’s behalf in Giyani or the money paid to Santaclara had anything to do with political protection, saying if the EFF had engaged the government over the water project, “LTE was not party to any of these engagements”.
They did not respond to later questions about whether the millions they paid to the ANC and EFF were linked to tenders…