Lawyer concerned with Zondo Commission’s call for Brian Molefe to testify on Transnet
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Pretoria - The Zondo Commission has summoned former Eskom group chief executive Brian Molefe to testify on Transnet-related matters next month, sparking accusations by his lawyer that the commission was prejudicial and on a fishing expedition.
His lawyer from Molaba Attorneys Incorporated, Mpho Molefe, said it was concerning that the State Capture Commission on Monday summoned Molefe to present himself before chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo to answer questions on Transnet matters between March 8 and 12, before rescheduling him to complete his testimony on Eskom matters. Molefe’s testimony was interrupted when commission staff members contracted Covid-19 last month, leading to speculation that Justice Zondo was trying to protect President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan whom he had implicated in state capture and the peddling of political influence in exchange for personal benefit.
According to a summons signed by commission secretary Professor Itumeleng Mosala and seen by the Pretoria News, Molefe must “appear before the commission personally at the Civic Centre, 158 Civic Boulevard, Braamfontein, Johannesburg, from March 8 to 12 (both dates inclusive) at 9am on each such day for the purpose of giving evidence before the commission and being questioned” regarding “his affidavit dated January 20 and any further affidavit/s he may submit to the commission”.
Molefe is expected to answer questions on his visit to the Saxonwold residence of the Gupta family, the processes relating to his appointment as Transnet group chief executive in 2011, and sponsorship and advertising contracts with The New Age newspaper, among others.
This also includes the awarding of tenders and alleged interference in the supplier development contracts in relation to the Manganese Expansion Project, his relationship, including shared corporate interests, with Iqbal Sharma, Salim Essa, Malusi Gigaba, Portia Derby, Regopotswe Koketso Maponya and Vikas Sagar.
Molefe’s lawyer said the Zondo Commission should give his client a fair opportunity to finish his testimony on the power utility’s dealings, before speaking on matters relating to Transnet, as per new summons sent to them.
Said the lawyer: “We are surprised and taken aback by the commission and the way they are dealing with this matter. One would expect that they should allow our client to finish his testimony on Eskom matters before moving to other matters.”
Attempts to get comment from the Zondo Commission proved futile as spokesperson Reverend Mbuyiselo Stemela did not respond to questions sent on Tuesday.
The lawyer has complained in an interview with the Pretoria News that his client was in the dark about when he would be called again to complete his testimony on matters related to the embattled power utility. He added that his client was being prejudiced, also giving the impression that the commission was on a fishing expedition. The latest summons comes at a time when some of Molefe’s supporters suspect the commission is trying to prevent him from speaking further on Eskom to protect Ramaphosa and Gordhan.
According to the commission, the following matters are under investigation:
The processes relating to his appointment as Transnet group chief executive in 2011; The increase in the delegations of authority for the group chief executive between 2009 and 2015, and the creation of the Board Acquisitions and Disposals Committee;
The planning and development of the Market Demand Strategy of Transnet;
The acquisition of 95 electric locomotives for the General Freight Business (GFB);
The acquisition of the 100 21E electric locomotives for the GFB;
The acquisition of Transnet’s 1 064 locomotives – including the relocation of the operations of China North Rail and Bombardier Transport to Durban;
The appointment of the McKinsey consortium for advisory services on the 1 064 locomotives, the withdrawal of McKinsey and cession to Regiments, and payments made to Regiments;
The China Development Bank loan;
The confinement and appointment of McKinsey/Regiments on the NMPP project;
The Manganese project, the SWAT 1 project, the SWAT 2 project, the Coal Line project and the Kumba Iron project;
The confinement and award of the GFB Breakthrough project to Regiments, with McKinsey as a subcontractor;
Three contracts with Neotel: the MSA for network services, the confinement and award of the CCTV contract in 2014, and the award for a R300 million contract for IT equipment;
The awarding of tenders and interference in the supplier development contracts in relation to the Manganese Expansion Project;
Sponsorship and advertising contracts with The New Age; the payment of legal fees to Siyabonga Gama, or the attorneys representing him, further to his reinstatement as the chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail in 2011; and
International trips that coincided with those by members of the Gupta family and their associates during his tenure as Transnet group chief executive; processes related to his appointment as a MP in February 2017; and matters connected therewith.