Johannesburg - There was a brief stand-off on Wednesday between businessman Mzwanele Manyi and the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture when Manyi insisted on proceeding with his testimony on Wednesday and not the original date of November 23.
This after Manyi received communication to appear before the inquiry on Wednesday and not next week Friday, as initially set out, as there was an opening following former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan's testimony.
Advocate Vincent Maleka earlier indicated that the inquiry's legal team was "not ready" to deal with Manyi's evidence and requested that the original date stand.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, while noting the "misunderstanding", ruled that the original date set down for Manyi's testimony stand.
This did not sit well with Manyi, who asked to address Zondo after Hogan concluded her testimony on the "unfair treatment" he was being subjected to.
"Chairperson, I just feel that I'm not getting fair treatment in that, yes on the 23rd was the scheduled date and I got correspondence to say there's a gap today and that I must come in today. So I'm here today and I'm very ready to table my version.
"Now the input that Maleka gave to the chair... gave the wrong impression. What Maleka said when he tabled the situation, he gave the impression that if I speak today, I'll say something less than what I would've said on the 23rd when in fact that's not the case."
Manyi stressed that he came before the commission on two issues: to respond to the subpoena he received over the text message he sent and to respond to the testimony of acting government communications and information system (GCIS) director-general Phumla Williams.
Williams testified that when Manyi took over as the CEO of GCIS he swiftly implemented a string of changes which included that the media buying division report directly to him.
A back-and-forth between Manyi and the commission ensued, during which Manyi insisted that he be allowed to put forward his version and return later to provide clarity if so required.
"I think if the state of readiness of the legal team is not at a level of engaging with my input, can we arrive at a compromise... I can come again on the 23rd [where] they will be better informed of my version because I would have put not only the written version but also my oral submission.
"I think this committee has made public how it operates and what Maleka and the rest of the team are doing is at odds with what has been communicated in terms of the operations of this commission. It cannot be that when a person is on the witness stand that it is an omnibus of anything that comes.
Maleka then said that there were some of the issues the legal team wished to tackle with Manyi, hence the desire to stick to the original date, but said that if Manyi was prepared to speak on Wednesday, he should be allowed to.
Manyi took exception to raising of unrelated issues, saying it was unfair to place him on the witness stand to give his version of events and then question him on issues he had not agreed to be questioned on.
"... I am being denied an opportunity to present on something that has been presented both in an affidavit and orally and now I'm here to respond to that. Now I'm told that, not only that but 'while you're here, let's do this'. It can't be fair.
"I'm not running away, I'm in this country, I've got roots here. If I have to be subpoenaed for anything else that Maleka wants to raise, I'm here for that, I'm ready."
Manyi was granted permission to testify his version of events. The inquiry continues.
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