SA captured by Norma Mngoma and Malusi Gigaba’s home affairs
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It turned out to be the jaw-dropping case of the long knife versus the perfectly manicured claws – a drama so sensational, on a stage so unlikely, starring players so vengeful, even South Africans who had shown no interest in the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture just had to move in closer to their TV screens.
In an epic she-said-he-said battle over the past three weeks, former minister of finance Malusi Gigaba fired rapid salvos at his estranged wife, Norma Mngoma, at the commission, ripping into her testimony and branding her an “accomplished liar”.
The commission, and the millions of South Africans who have now added the Gigabas’s appearances to our viewing list, have been privy to the most intimate details of the pair’s falling out.
A rather odd platform for couple’s therapy, but que sera, sera.
In response to Mngoma singing like a canary about his alleged dirty dealings, Gigaba spared no effort in trying to convince the commission that she was not trustworthy.
Asking Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo not to believe the woman in bespoke power suits, killer heels and made up to within an inch of her life, Gigaba disclosed a litany of alleged “lies” – including a bombshell revelation that Mngoma duped him into believing that her older fiancé was her father.
We were still trying to get over Mngoma’s disclosure of a credit card with a monthly limit of R100 000, courtesy of Gigaba – mainly used to buy gifts for herself while abroad.
No handbags under R20 000. Some girls have all the luck.
Sorry, back to Gigaba, who said that when he first met Mngoma, she portrayed herself as a wealthy woman and told him she had inherited a large sum of money and assets from her late father, who had lived in New York.
He told the commission there was no need for him to take money from the Guptas, as Mngoma herself was wealthy and he was a minister.
Gigaba said his ex drove luxury vehicles that she claimed were hers.
“I knew her to be this high-flying IT executive who had worked at various well-paying IT companies,” he said.
He said she maintained this narrative of being wealthy for their entire relationship.
However, he found out last year that her “father” was in fact her secret fiancé .
Gigaba said the South African man was engaged to Mngoma and died in 2010.
Daddy issues like these were unheard of in South Africa.
Gigaba told the commission that Mngoma’s appearance was intended to pressure him into giving into her divorce settlement demands.
The pair married in 2014 with a prenuptial contract, sans accrual.
Gigaba said when he asked for a divorce Mngoma presented him with three proposals.
“The first was that, Mr Gigaba, I would like you to offer me something; I cannot just walk away without anything.
“I would like something financially,” he told the commission.
“She said proposal number two (was) I would like you to withdraw the case which involved her damaging a vehicle lent to me by a friend.
“She said, third, I would in return stave off the attempts by the commission on state capture to invite me to submit an affidavit about you.”
Mngoma, claiming to have nothing to lose, was loose-lipped about Gigaba’s close relationship with the Guptas, how they funded the couple’s lavish lifestyle and vacations and even assisted the former minister’s family with money and jobs.
If Mngoma is to be believed, Ajay Gupta gave Gigaba an R850 000 bailout for his sister’s failed businesses.
Mngoma told the commission her sister-in-law, Nozipho, an optometrist in KwaZulu-Natal, had her debt paid off, her name removed from the credit bureau’s blacklist and was also employed in the marketing department of the Guptas Sahara Computers business.
Painting a dramatic picture of extravagant wealth and luxury amid a world of corruption and crooks, Mngoma admitted she never physically saw the exchange of cash between Gigaba and the Guptas.
However, she remained convinced that he would receive bags of cash from Ajay Gupta, which were later stored in their home safe and used for shopping sprees, lunches and overseas trips. She said the lavish renovations at Gigaba’s house were funded by Ajay Gupta.
He shot back, insisting it was his retired reverend father who paid for the renovations.
Her returning retort was a blow too low for Gigaba. In a passionate monologue, he told the commission he was extremely angry at Mngoma’s insinuation his father was too poor to pay as he could not afford his own medication.
All evidence of this – the overseas trip, expensive vehicles and their attendance at the now infamous big, fat Gupta wedding at Sun City – was deleted from her electronic devices last year, she said.
Gigaba, however, dismissed Mngoma as a “bitter” ex who was using the commission to manipulate divorce proceedings.
He said he was “hurt and angry” she stooped so low that she “dragged” the name of his late father and their children into her testimony.
He was adamant that Mngoma – the once-half of a power couple which ruled the country’s social scene with the glitz and glamour reserved for the top 1% – was an integral part of a Machiavellian political scheme to destroy him.
She alleged it was a member of the ANC’s top six who leaked a pornographic video of her estranged husband as part of a scheme to politically destroy him.
Then, with a toss of her hair and a flash of her carefully lined eyes, Mngoma went in for a savage body blow, by Gigaba’s standards, at least.
One of the youngest ministers the South African democratic administration has seen, Gigaba turned many heads with his elevated sense of style – and he worked it like a pro.
Often dressed by exclusive designer Tshepo Masego of Relevance For Men Tailored Suits and Shoes, his suits featured prominently in Mngoma’s testimony.
In fact the couple were famous for their red carpet appearances at the opening of Parliament and State of the Nation addresses.
No one shone brighter than the Gigabas, she in her designer gown, face beat to perfection, not a hair out of place – him looking like he had been poured into his bespoke suit commissioned from some exclusive men’s outfitter.
They were political royalty.
However, before the commission, Mngoma sang a different tune.
She said Gigaba used the money from the Guptas to buy expensive suits in cash.
She said he had over 100 suits at home and in storage, but cried poverty saying the suits were often bought on a payment plan or on a discount.
Ripping each other apart over three weeks has not rendered the couple battle weary.
Gigaba has been granted leave to cross examine Mngoma at the commission.
Seeing as nothing is off limits for this couple, should South Africans grab the popcorn for a sequel?