Johannesburg - African National Congress (ANC) head of elections Fikile Mbalula on Thursday confirmed ex-minister Trevor Manuel's testimony before the state capture commission of inquiry that he first heard of his appointment as sports minister from the Gupta family ahead of a cabinet reshuffle more than 10 years ago.
Mbalula said what came out of the Zondo-led commission on Thursday was the truth, and that he would soon appear to testify.
"That commission is important in unravelling the state capture allegations. Trevor Manuel should be saluted for saying the truth on events that unfolded in that [ANC national executive committee (NEC)] meeting," Mbalula told reporters at a briefing at Luthuli House.
"I will go to the commission and present my statement...our lawyers had written to the judge on what our lawyers needed from Manuel. Now that I am no longer in government, people seem to find it difficult to find me as am no longer minister...now that things have been raised [at the commission], I will appear. The truth will set us free."
He said what Manuel told the commission was true, adding that he will appear and "amplify the truth", explain why he raised the concerns a 2011 ANC NEC meeting.
The commission on Thursday heard that Mbalula failed to respond to a notice emailed to him in October last year regarding Manuel's testimony about him.
Evidence leader Advocate Leah Gcabashe told the inquiry that Mbalula had not acknowledged receipt or responded to that notice, drawing the ire of commission chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Zondo said not only should witnesses be notified in time, they should not wait to be called to come forward and assist the commission.
Manuel testified that an emotional Mbalula rose to his feet during an ANC NEC meeting in 2011, and confessed before the ANC top dogs that he had been informed by one of the Gupta brothers that former president Jacob Zuma would soon appoint him as sports minister.
Gupta went further to congratulate Mbalula. He was appointed minister of sports and recreation from being a deputy minister of police on November 1, 2010, and only made the alleged confession almost a year later. Manuel said Zuma was present during this confession but did not have any reaction to the news.
"There was intense discussion about influence of the Guptas in response to what started out as political overview. When it came to opportunity for Mbalula to speak, he became very emotional. I'm not saying that he cried because I'm trying to humiliate him but it was exceedingly emotional," Manuel said.
The former finance minister had written an open letter in 2017 in which he detailed Mbalula's statement at the NEC meeting. Next on the stand at the commission was former South African National Defence Force (SANDF) chief and ANC NEC member Siphiwe Nyanda who corroborated Manuel's testimony.
Following his 2009 appointment as communications minister, Nyanda said the Guptas requested meetings with him at their Saxonwold compound, sending emissaries to him. He testified that he told them he can only meet them in his office.
Soon one of the Gupta brothers arrived at his office accompanied by Zuma's son, Duduzane, said Nyanda.
''They introduced their company Sahara computers. There were other officials in that board room meeting, and after that introduction, they left.''
African News Agency (ANA)