ANC Veteran and former Minister of Public Enterprise Barbara Hogan gave evidence at the State Capture Commission. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan on Monday told the state capture inquiry about how a faction within the African National Congress (ANC) loyal to former president Jacob Zuma usurped her authority over state-owned enterprises, dictating who should be appointed. 

Hogan decried Zuma's interference at Eskom.

''I was appointed in 2009, shortly after the Polokwane conference [at which Zuma was elected ANC president in 2007], known for strong factional influence. Regrettably, factional battles only encouraged and entrenched nepotism and patronage within the ANC. 

"Then there were ways that president Zuma and some Cabinet colleagues thwarted my attempts to get board appointments approved. The inexcusable interference in my responsibility as minister by Zuma eroded my executive authority, I refer to Eskom in particular,'' she testified.

She said even the ANC NWC (national working committee) ''took it upon themselves'' to instruct a minister on who to appoint to certain positions. These raised doubts about the efficiency of the ANC 's deployment committee, she added.

''I sincerely wonder if the deployment committee plays a useful role now. If that deployment committee is captured by whatever forces... it can have a fundamental impact on government. ''

Earlier, Hogan explained the role of the minister of public enterprises and regulations governing state-owned enterprises. 

Zuma appointed her minister of public enterprises in May 2009 and Enoch Godongwana as her deputy. The former president fired Hogan in 2010. The current Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba was then appointed to replace Hogan.

Her first ''negative experience'' of the relationship between her party and state emerged shortly after her appointment. She was summoned to Luthuli House to explain herself following a media report on SAA's financial problems.

''As you know, the ruling party had vetoed any privatisation, a decision by the tri-partite alliance [consisting of the ANC, SA Communist Party, Congress of South African Trade Unions and SA National Civics Orgnsation]. After my appointment, I realised the financial stressed SAA was in. In a later interview with the reporter, I said there has to be an equity partner, as government had no resources to fund the deficit. The ANC top brass at the time, the secretary general and the deputy secretary general kicked up a huge fuss in the media and publicly summoned me to Luthuli house, me and my deputy. At that meeting, I explained that SAA had serious problems and we were going to need funding...no press release was released about that meeting. 

''My take is if I was seen to be going outside policy it is government, that is the president who was supposed to call me up, not the party. There was a strong pro-Zuma faction in that ANC that they saw themselves as powerful to dictate to government...down to who should be CEO or not.''

She told the commission about her activism background from the 1970's. Hogan said she was born in Benoni in the then East Rand. She secretly joined the ANC in 1977 while a student at the University of the Witwatersrand. Hogan arrested in 1981 by security police during a wide scale raid and stood trial on charges of high treason along with several other activists. 

''I was found guilty. The judge said there was nothing wrong in what I did...but that I was a party to a conspiracy to overthrow government as I was a member of the ANC. I was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1982. As a white person, I was not allowed to interact with other prisoners. I was released just three days before Mandela was released, following the unbanning of liberation movements, including the ANC.''

She then became ANC secretary in Gauteng in the early 1990's, describing it as ''a difficult time when people in the province were being killed'' as political violence swept across the province. She became an MP in 1994, and also chaired various parliamentary committees before she was appointed minister.

Evidence leader, advocate Phillip Mokoena, said a notice was sent to Zuma in August alerting him of Hogan's statement that implicated him, and that the former president has not lodged any application or submitted his version to the commission.

Commission chairman, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, started Monday's proceedings by reiterating to the media to desist from publishing witnesses' evidence before they appeared before the commission following the leaking to media of the witness statement of current Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan.

''I appeal to all concerned to just exercise patience and give the processes of the commission space," Zondo said.

Also present at the commission were Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe, former SAA board chairwoman Cheryl Carolus, and Gordhan.

African News Agency/ANA