#StateCaptureInquiry: I never instructed minister to fire Maseko, says Zuma
Politics / 16 July 2019, 4:51pm / Khanyisile Ngcobo
Johannesburg - It was a day of denials as former president Jacob Zuma sat for a second day at the commission of inquiry into state capture, sitting at Parktown in Johannesburg.
Zuma appeared before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, chair of the commission, where he spent the day refuting the numerous allegations made against him by ex-government spin doctor Themba Maseko and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.
Zuma was first led through Maseko's evidence, a continuation from Monday, by the commission's Advocate Paul Pretorius where he denied being behind Maseko's axing over the latter's refusal to bow to the Gupta family's demands.
The former president denied he had any involvement in Maseko's removal, saying that that fell within the ambit of the relevant department minister and public services department.
"No, I never instructed the minister to do so [remove Maseko]. The minister [Collins Chabane] discuss the fact that he would like to transfer Mr Maseko... there was an issue between the two of them, I can't remember all the details.
"Like all ministers who would come for us to be able to agree, so that action can be taken, not to discuss. If he thought there were issues that were necessary to be said, because it's a big decision, he will indicate."
He told Zondo he could not recall the exact details around Maseko's transfer as there was a moving of DGs around the same time
He further denied discussing "operational" matters with the controversial family, saying the issues discussed were of a private nature.
Zuma questioned the motivation for discussing the matter with Chabane while he was out of the country, saying this claim sounded "fishy".
"I think I have a difficulty with this that if, let us assume I wanted Maseko out, I would wait until I was out of the country and when I'm very far away, call. It's very funny... I'm not running a department. Why would I not call minister Chabane while I was here? Why would I wait until I go [out of the country]," a puzzled Zuma asked.
Pretorius then moved on to Mentor's testimony, which had claimed that Ajay Gupta had offered her a ministerial position at his Saxonwold while the former president was in another room. This in exchange for her agreeing to abolish the South African Airways (SAA) route from Johannesburg to India.
Mentor at the time said it was clear that Zuma was not surprised by claims that Ajay offered her a job.
Zuma denied Mentor's allegations, or that he discussed Cabinet appointments with the members of the family as they were not "part of government".
The second day of Zuma's appearance began on startling note, with the former president revealing he'd recently been at the receiving end of death threat against him and his family. Zuma told a concerned Zondo that his peersonal assistant informed him of an anonymous call making threats against him, his children and people he may know.
"My life, my children and my lawyer's lives are under threat... I just want to put it on record before the commission," he told Zondo.
The commission chair expressed concern over these threats, asking the commission's legal team to look into the matter.
Zuma's supporters, a drop from Monday, included ANC SG Ace Magashule and former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.