Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said he had to consult with officials at National Treasury and ''refresh his mind'' on events and meetings he took part in when he was finance minister.
Testifying in the commission of inquiry into state capture, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Gordhan said ageing played a role in memory lapses as he recollected his time as minister of finance between 2004 and 2009.
''Particularly with reference to the work of finance minister, there were many different types of meetings and events both internationally and locally...not all of these events and meetings are fresh in one's mind. I had to rely on checking my diary at Treasury and my former chief of staff and officials for them to recollect what really happened. We are getting on with age, one must confess,'' he said.
He continued to read the ANC's Nasrec resolutions that alluded to the fight against corruption and many statements from the party condemning the industrial scale of corruption, as he gave the Zondo commission a context and background to his testimony.
''Congruent with these resolutions and the dictates of my conscience, I provide this statement to the commission in its important work to uncover the truth about state capture, and ensure it does not happen again.''
Gordhan said in the face of fighting corruption and distraction, there is a fight-back from looters to ensure that the ''spotlight does not fall on them''. He mentioned the work of the British company Bell Pottinger and the fake news phenomenon.
''People will defend their largesse or access to it in one way on the other. The pattern that is emerging is a sub-culture of capture which becomes part of the whole phenomenon...so you have the big and the small fish.''
He added that his department is unearthing documents and evidence on governance issues and malfeasance in state-owned enterprises, which would be submitted to the commission. He said that some documents might have been destroyed already.
Earlier Zondo ruled that the Academic Professional Staff Association (Apsa), a trade union affiliated to the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), write to the commission to substantiate their allegations against legal team leader, Paul Pretorius. The union, in a press statement released on Friday, demanded that Pretorius recuse himself from the inquiry because he once represented former Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay pro bono. Lackay is now spokesman for Gordhan's department.
Said Apsa: ''We also have it on record that Mr Gordhan has a father-son relationship with Lackay and they are very close. It is not surprising that the first thing Gordhan did after he was appointed minister was to appoint Lackay as his spokesperson. We are further informed that Pretorius has had a number of cordial conversations with Minister Gordhan before and can be said to be friends.''
Zondo said he noted the media reports on the allegations, but that after talking to Pretorius over the weekend, he concluded that the advocate should stay.
''Pretorius has given me clarification regarding that matter. Those who want him recused should write to the commission with substantiation of facts, their request will be looked into properly. I am satisfied with what advocate Pretorius told me that there is no problem with him continuing. If there are other issues in the future, we will look into that.''
Hundreds of EFF supporters gathered outside the inquiry venue in Johannesburg on Monday, protesting against the minister. The Black First Land First group also joined suit and chanted slogans calling for Gordhan to resign.
Placards written 'Pravin is a criminal' and 'Pravin is king of corruption' were hoisted by chanting protesters outside the gates. Police officers had to shut down the building entrance after EFF supporters banged on the gates.
Gordan's family were present at the inquiry. Also seated in the public gallery was Lackay, former Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay and ex-minister Barbara Hogan, who testified last week.
African News Agency/ANA