Former Free State MEC Mxolisi Dukwana appears before the commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - The former Free State MEC for Economic Development Mxolisi Dukwana has told the Zondo commission that he believes he was fired by former premier Ace Magashule for his refusal to advance the Guptas’ corrupt interests. 

Dukwana told the inquiry on Friday about his sudden firing in 2012. He said he strongly believes that his relationship with Magashule had soured because he had decided to contest for the position of chairperson of the ANC, which was held by Magashule. 

He also said his refusal to grant the Guptas access to a multi-billion rand Free State government project was another reason why he lost favour with his fellow comrade.

"I believe I was fired as the MEC for refusing to approve and cooperate with the common purpose with Magashule to advance the commercial interest of the Gupta family and cause state capture. I have no doubt, and also because of the fact that I was contesting him (as chairperson of the ANC in Free State)," said Dukwana. 

The former MEC had detailed how the Guptas wanted a share in the province's planned new city project which was valued at $2.9 billion. 

He said the Guptas attempts started with a visit he took with Magashule to the Gupta compound in 2012. 

He said when they arrived they were greeted by Tony Gupta who ushered him into a room. Dukwana said he sat in the room alone while Magashule and Gupta were in another room in the house. 

He said later Gupta and Magashule returned with other men who he recognised as Duduzane Zuma and Gupta linked businessman Iqbal Sharma. 

Gupta started speaking and handed Dukwana a letter which had the Free State department letterhead. Dukwana said he was shocked as the letter appeared to be an appointment letter of a Nulane Investment company. 

Gupta told him he had to sign the letter as they would be involved in a business project with him, he said the project would not involve Magashule. 

Dukwana said he refused to sign the letter, but Gupta did not relent and even proposed a "sweetener" as an attempt to persuade him. Gupta offered Dukwana R2 million if he signed the letter and he also assured him that he would receive R2 million a month when the project started. 
After this interaction, Sharma and Ace Magashule's son Tshepiso drafted a series of letters which were purported to be drafted by Dukwana which appeared to give the Gupta linked Nulane approval for the project. 

He said Sharma was in a rush and it appeared he wanted access to money while the company had done no work. 

Dukwana was fired after these failed attempts by the Guptas. He was told by his fellow MEC that he was being removed to make way for a 50/50 representation of women as part of the ANC's policy. 

Dukwana also admitted to the commission that he had accepted R10 00 from Tony Gupta as compensation for petrol. The two had met in 2015 at Oakbay Resources offices. 

"As I was about to leave he said for all your troubles here is R10 000," said Dukwana. 

He was asked by evidence leader Advocate Phillip Mokoena why he had accepted the money.  

"Why did you meet with him in 2015 against the background that you have given?" Mokoena asked.  

"When he offered the money I had travelled all the way from Welkom and he offered the money, not in a bank, so I took it. Not because it was meant to do anything, I was out of government," said Dukwana. 

The former Free State MEC also spoke candidly about Magashule saying he often used the ANC in his own defence against corruption allegations. 

"When one looks back and you know the kind of leadership the ANC had and you look at what we have and what is happening you begin to understand. Especially when you have a person who is SG who from time to time, he has always hidden himself behind the organisation. When he has to face everything on his own, he does these things, and every time he has challenged it is like you are challenging the ANC while you are actually dealing with an individual," said Dukwana. 

The state capture commission resumes on Monday.