Johannesburg - Former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize has challenged Parliament to allow him to respond to damning claims made by former Prasa boss Lucky Montana that he canvassed a bribe for the governing party.
On Thursday, Zukiswa Rantho, chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, confirmed to The Star that Mkhize had written to the committee asking to be given an opportunity to respond to Montana, the erstwhile chief financial officer of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA.
“He (Mkhize) has already made the application. I have forwarded it to the evidence leader (advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara),” Rantho said.
Rantho was in Joburg on Thursday as part of a delegation to meet the new Eskom board..
She gave the assurance that Mkhize would be afforded an opportunity to respond to Montana’s allegations that he tried to solicit a 10% bribe for the ANC from the R465million contract awarded to Swifambo Rail Leasing to build locomotives for Prasa in 2014.
Rantho and her committee have come under attack for allegedly failing to question Montana about the damning report by the former public protector Thuli Madonsela, titled “Derailed”, which implicated the ex-Prasa boss in corruption.
Rantho reportedly said the main reason Montana testified before the committee was to clear his name after he was mentioned at a media briefing by Deputy Enterprises Minister Ben Martins.
Rantho said it would be wrong if she did not clarify the matter, as social media reports had criticised the committee on how it had dealt with Montana.
“Social media reports have called us fools for not asking the right questions.
"We have always said at the start of the inquiry that people who have been named and implicated in the course of the inquiry will be afforded an opportunity to come and give their side of the story,” Rantho said.
She confirmed that Mkhize would be allowed to respond to Montana’s testimony. Mkhize did not respond to queries on Thursday.
On Thursday night, Montana welcomed the committee's decision to allow Mkhize to respond.
"I welcome the committee's decision to give Dr Mkhize a right to reply. It is good for accountability and our democracy," Montana said.
He said he finished testifying and was expecting those who were unhappy with his testimony to respond.
"I wish the committee would also invite those who were part of the meeting with Dr Mkhize," Montana added.
ANC spokesperson Khusela Diko reiterated the party’s stance that they had no knowledge of any attempts to get a bribe for the governing party.
“We are on record as saying we will never support any attempt by anybody to solicit bribes in the name of the organisation," Diko pointed out.
"And we will continue to reject those allegations."
On Wednesday, the EFF laid a criminal charge of corruption against Mkhize at Hillbrow police station, based on Montana’s testimony.
Montana claimed there were a number of people, including the Guptas, who wanted a stake in the R50billion locomotive deal.
He said the Guptas had wanted the Chinese company, China Rail South, to secure the deal while others known to him to be ANC members, apparently wanted a Canadian company.
Montana's testimony shocked the committee when he said Mkhize summoned him to Luthuli House - the ANC's headquarters - where he initially tried to persuade him to cancel the Swifambo Rail Leasing tender.
He said he told Mkhize that it would be legally impossible to do so, saying: “I told him that Swifambo can take Prasa to court and get the R50bn without any obligation to deliver the locomotives”.
Montana said when he stood firm, Mkhize allegedly accused him of having given a lucrative tender to a French company, despite knowing the extent of brutality committed by the French in some of the African countries they had colonised.
“He (Mkhize) made veiled threats that he will deal with us. One his accusations was that we were giving the ANC “peanuts”, while we took the bulk of the money for ourselves,” Montana said.