A week of high drama at state capture inquiry
Johannesburg - It was a jam-packed week at the State Capture Commission of Inquiry with former Eskom CFO Anoj Singh starting proceedings at the beginning of the week.
Singh’s testimony continued from Monday into late Tuesday evening after a no-show by Norma Mngoma - the estranged wife of former finance minister Malusi Gigaba.
The Commission also heard evidence from ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe on the party's relationship with the Gupta family and its position on placing cadres in state positions.
Mantashe’s testimony which ran late into the evening also spoke to how a number of ANC members were captured by the Gupta family.
In his two-day testimony, Singh detailed his involvement with management consulting firm McKinsey.
In focus was a letter issued by McKinsey to Eskom in September 2015 confirming that Trillian would be subcontracted and setting out conditions as to how payment should be made by Eskom to Trillian.
Singh also denied that consultancy firm McKinsey backdated its contract to January 2016 even though it was signed only in October that year.
Eskom paid McKinsey and the Gupta-linked company Trillian R1,6 billion after it terminated the relationship with the companies in 2016 after only six months.
McKinsey has since paid back R1 billion while Eskom has gone to court to reclaim the balance from Trillian.
In an about-turn, the wife of former minister Gigaba withdrew from appearing before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Mngoma’s appearance was highly anticipated as it was expected she would provide details around her previous allegations against her estranged husband that Gigaba received money from the Gupta family and had personal relations with them during his tenure as Minister of Home Affairs and later as Finance minister.
Mngoma was meant to begin her testimony on Tuesday afternoon after it was initially rescheduled from the previous Friday.
But, her legal representative Advocate Gwalisile Makhatini told the Commission that Mngoma withdrew from testifying.
Makhatini said she was informed about Mngoma’s decision the night before and did not have time to consult with her client.
“This letter sets to inform the commission that as of late yesterday we received instructions from our client informing us of her personal concerns with regards to how various aspects of her proposed appearance at the commission has been handled or allegedly mishandled by the commission,” said Makhathini.
The commission said it will summons to compel Mngoma to come and give evidence.
In his testimony on Wednesday Mantashe revealed that the ANC's Integrity Commission recommended that former President Jacob Zuma should step down in 2017. This, he said, was related to Zuma's relationship with the Gupta family.
The recommendation apparently came shortly after the Gupta family landed a wedding plane at the Waterkloof Air Force Base.
He said, since then, the ANC has been going through a period of "instability".
He started proceedings by reading his opening statement about deployment of ANC cadres to government positions.
He told the Commission that the ANC has a "deployment policy" and not "cadre deployment".
In a supplementary statement written by Mantashe in 2018, he said that the ANC's aim was to "deepen the hold of the liberation movement over the levers of the state".
Proceedings were adjourned for the day on Thursday after evidence - leader Advocate Mabel Sesi Baloyi told the Commission that there were certain issues to be dealt with regarding former Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti's affidavit.
The week ended with evidence from former Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa chief executive, Lucky Montana who tore apart former Prasa board Chairperson, Popo Molefe's affidavit. He accused Molefe of distorting facts and misleading the commission. He said he waited two years to address the commission.
He spoke of their relationship with Montana saying that Molefe had started a campaign to place him in a bad light. He said that Molefe would have loved to dismiss him but knew that he couldn't.
"I even told him [Molefe], you are asking me to stay for another three years but you are busy sharpening your spear to stab me,” Montana said.
Montana also denied there were billions of Rands in irregular expenditure during his time at the rail agency.
He said that Prasa had unqualified audit opinions for all the years he was there.
He said Molefe manufactured facts to make Prasa look like it was dysfunctional when it was not.
While testifying, Montana also said that the Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane attempted to manipulate Prasa's rolling stock programme "but I stopped them".
He said the Gupta's hoped to garner favour because of their closeness with the former President, but Montana refused to help them with "illegal things".
"I said you cannot extort money in our names. I said you cannot tell people outside the country that you are working for us and you are working for President Zuma.
"Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma were there… and I said if you guys go out of the country and you want money from these companies and you claim to work for the President, I am going to fight that and I will convey that to the president and I did that," Montana said.