Minister of Communications Siphiwe Nyanda before taking the witness stand at the Zondo Commission during the afternoon session. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

Johannesburg - ANC veteran Siphiwe Nyanda has corroborated Trevor Manuel’s statement that Fikile Mbalula revealed in an ANC NEC meeting that he had been told by the Guptas that he would be appointed as sports minister. 

Nyanda, who previously served as communications minister, said he was also present at the same national executive committee meeting in 2011 when Mbalula made a declaration to his fellow NEC members. 

In that meeting, Mbalula said he was approached by the Guptas who told him he would be appointed as sports minister before he had been notified by then president Jacob Zuma. Nyanda says Mbalula seemed upset about this as it came from people who had no business telling him about his promotion. 

“He said the Guptas told him that he would become the sports minister which he did and was appointed. What was remarkable was that when Mbalula made this stunning revelation he was disturbed by this. One of the reasons I remember is that I to was affected by that reshuffle and I had my suspicions. When he said this it was a confirmation that this was the case that people had been called,” said Nyanda. 

Earlier the commission heard from Manuel who also told the commission of the same incident. Manuel had stressed that Mbalula was emotional and cried during the declaration, but Nyanda said can’t remember whether Mbalula was crying. 

Nyanda said the revelation was profound for him for a number of reasons. He had been fired as communications minister in October 2010 and he had suspicions about why he and several other ministers were fired. He had even asked Zuma and other ANC officials about the reasons for his removal but he received unclear answers. 

Like Manuel, Nyanda could not recall how the NEC discussion started and in what context. 

The General said he had heard rumours about his possible removal in 2010 and that he suspects Mbalula was not the only minister that was told of a promotion by the Guptas. 

Advocate Mahlape Sello, the evidence leader, asked Nyanda whether Zuma or other ANC official responded to the revelations. Nyanda said Zuma did not comment. 

He said he also expected Zuma to speak to this matter because it was an accusation against him as the president who was the only one with the constitutional mandate to appoint ministers. 

“Not the president or the officials in that meeting made any comments about that. Perhaps the onus would have been on the person at which these allegations were being made because the person responsible for appointments is the president. The president closes the meeting and talks to the important points of the meeting and this was an important revelation.  Mbalula was saying he had given away the role of informing on other people, I expected him to deal with the matter, ”he said. 

Nyanda said despite Zuma’s lack of reaction on the declaration ANC members did discuss this amongst themselves. He personally spoke to Mbalula about the matter. 

He also told the inquiry of his brief encounter with the Guptas when he was still the minister of finance. He said Duduzane Zuma was present and the group introduced themselves and talked about their business interests and their company Sahara. 

He said after that encounter the Guptas tried to solicit another meeting with him but it became clear they did not want to meet at his office. Nyanda chose not entertain the invitations which were being sent by third parties. He declined to reveal the names of the third parties were. 

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