26/11/2018 Johannesburg. Former Government Communication and Information System head Mzwanele Manyi takes the stand at the State Capture Commission. The commission takes place at The hill on Empire, Parktown Picture: Dimpho Maja/ African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Former government spokesman Mzwanele "Jimmy" Manyi told the state capture commission of inquiry on Monday, that there is no evidence that the fugitive Gupta family and their associates are implicated in the state capture scandal.

Manyi, who later became the owner of the now-defunct The New Age (TNA) newspaper and ANN7 news channel -- both previously owned by the Guptas -- said he had listened in at the commission and could not find evidence that pointed to the Guptas being at the centre of capturing the State. 

Evidence leader Vincent Maleka had asked him if he had reasons to doubt testimonies by ex-deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas, former Treasury director-general Lungile Fuzile, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Manyi's predecessor at Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), Themba Maseko.

He said he did not listen to ex-finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's evidence, and that he "lost concentration" as Gordhan testified last week. 

He however, had doubts about Jonas, Fuzile and Maseko's testimonies.

"Let us start with Maseko... he said the president [Jacob Zuma] told him 'please assist the Guptas'. People interact with ministers as they are the face of departments and with the president as well," Manyi said. 

"People go to them when they need something...they do not have an apparatus and the only people they can point them to are the director-generals, who would then point them to processes that need to be followed. I didn't hear Maseko say the president disregarded the process to be followed. I have doubts about what Maseko said."

He said he was "disturbed" by Jonas' evidence.

"Why would a deputy minister leave his car and body guards and go with this young chap [Duduzane Zuma] to a place he doesn't know?  These are some of the things I could not understand. I cannot vouch for people whom I think there are gaps in their depositions."

Manyi took over at GCIS from Themba Maseko in 2011. Maseko was fired, allegedly for not doing the Guptas bidding. 

Maseko testified at the commission that he was under pressure from the Guptas to channel R600 million in government advertising spend to the family's newspaper. 

He was then fired and replaced by Manyi. 

In 2017, Manyi's Lodidolox acquired ANN7 for R300 million and The New Age for R150 million from the Guptas through vendor financing. The companies were liquidated this year following a decline in heavily relied on government advertising and non-payment of staff.

The Guptas established TNA in 2010 and later started ANN7 in 2013.  

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535.

African News Agency (ANA)