Former sports minister Fikile Mbalula. Picture: Bongani Shilulbane/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former sports minister Fikile Mbalula may soon be compelled to respond to notices issued by the Zondo commission which he has failed to respond to.

Mbalula has been implicated in former finance minister Trevor Manuel's statement submitted to the inquiry last year. The commission's rules state that implicated persons should be formally notified before a witness takes the stand. 

Manuel submitted his statement on October 11, 2018, while Mbalula was notified on October 31. Mbalula, according to inquiry's evidence leader Advocate Leah Gcabashe, was supplied with Manuel's full statement. 

Manuel had written, in an op-ed which was published in the Daily Maverick, that Mbalula had tearfully shared during an ANC national executive committee meeting that Atul Gupta had knowledge of his appointment as minister beforehand. His testimony will largely focus on Manuela's version of Mbalula's confession. 

Atul Gupta who is also implicated in Manuel's statement was also notified, but his brother Ajay responded to the notice.  

Gcabashe told the commission's chair deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo that Mbalula failed to respond to the first notice and he was reminded in February about the need for his version.

Mbalula responded and said he had not received Manuel's full statement. Gcabashe said he was immediately sent the statement and was asked to respond within five days.

Mbalula again failed to respond to the second correspondence. 

Zondo appeared disturbed by the Mbalula's lack of urgency and suggested that if parties are notified and they failed to respond then other stringent measures need to be implemented. Mbalula could be compelled through a summons to respond to the commission. 

"Steps must be taken to make sure that all the people who have been notified in matters related to dismissals and appointments must submit their versions and for them to appear. If they do not volunteer then other measures need to be used to compel them to appear. 

"We do not have a lot of time to do this work and we must move with speed. There are some who say in the media that they are waiting for the commission to invite them. They should not wait for the commission if they want to make a contribution they must communicate with the commission," said Zondo. 

"We have to draw a line."

"We have asked Mbalula to respond to our letter which was sent on February 21 within five days. I think the enforcement measures need to kick in if we do not have his response by tomorrow evening," said Gcabashe. 

The inquiry continues.

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