Johannesburg - More explosive evidence came to light on Monday at the state capture commission, with revelations of how premiers, including ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, pumped millions of rand into propping up the Gupta media empire.
This emerged on a dramatic day when the commission was told that former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane also wanted to testify before the commission after former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas implicated him in state capture allegations involving the Guptas.
The commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, heard that the Free State government led the pack of provincial administrations that splurged millions of rand on Gupta media companies.
The history of payments by various government departments to the Gupta media companies, The New Age and Infinity, came under the spotlight.
Testifying before the commission, the Treasury’s Jan Gilliland said the Free State was the biggest financial backer of the Gupta assets compared to other provinces. Of the R114 million paid by offices of the premiers, Gilliland said the Free State premier’s office alone paid R53m to The New Age and R26m to Infinity. This was during Magashule’s tenure as Free State premier.
Gilliland said The New Age newspaper had pocketed R248m from the government, while Infinity secured R12m.
In terms of total payments by provinces, KwaZulu-Natal came second with payments of R24.8m to The New Age and R225 000 to Infinity.
The North West provincial government under then-premier Supra Mahumapelo paid R23.8m to the Gupta media companies.
The national government paid R99.6m to the companies, with R94m and R5.5m given to The New Age and Infinity respectively.
Gilliland told the commission that the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) made payments of R55m to the Gupta media entities.
Advocate Vincent Maleka, of the legal team, told Justice Zondo that an investigation was under way by the Hawks regarding the R1.2m paid to the Guptas between July 2017 and April 2018 by the GCIS.
Maleka said acting GCIS head Phumla Williams had claimed not to have knowledge of the controversial payments.
“There is going to be some investigation relative to these payments. I say no more other than that Ms Williams has no knowledge of them."
The Hawks have confronted her with these payments, and there is an investigation about them,” Maleka said.
Williams and former cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko have testified before the commission on how the Guptas tried to influence the media spend of the GCIS, including by firing Maseko when he refused to co-operate.
Duduzane Zuma has told the commission in writing of his intention to cross-examine those who had implicated him, including Jonas.
Speaking on the sidelines of the commission, ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa slammed the DA for calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to testify before the commission, saying this was grandstanding.
On Tuesday, former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan will take the stand and testify. Hogan was fired from the cabinet by Zuma in 2010, and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has told the commission that she was offered Hogan’s post by the Guptas before the reshuffle in exchange for advancing their business interests.
Justice Zondo said he would reveal his reserved decision on the applications by those who wanted leave to cross-examine witnesses, including the Guptas, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has called on Justice Zondo to reject the request by the Guptas to testify from Dubai.