By Amanda Watson
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan claims he was ‘an unwitting member of an executive which was misled, lied to, manipulated and abused’.
This was contained in a sworn statement to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture under Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, which became public after it was leaked.
In the statement, which was “inexplicably leaked to the media”, according to his spokesperson, Adrian Lackay, Gordhan laid the blame for state capture at the door of “the worst human instincts: self-enrichment, neglect of the higher mission and placing one’s self-interest before the community’s interest”.
In his statement, the veracity of which is not being denied, Gordhan said that between 2009 and 2017 – when Zuma was running the country and ruling party – he was “an unwitting member of an executive in the earlier part of this period which was misled, lied to, manipulated and abused”.
This, Gordhan claimed, was to benefit a few families, release the worst forms of recklessness and corruption, rob ordinary people of clinics and education and to “abuse and decimate key institutions of our democracy; including Sars, the Hawks, NPA, SOE’s like Eskom, Denel, Transnet”.
In the 68-page document the avowed diehard member of the ANC’s upper echelon is scathing in his attack on the abuses, which saw all the above entities practically hollowed out to benefit those linked to the massive state capture project.
Yesterday, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in response to a question on the Zondo commission during his visit to Alexandra, Johannesburg, said Gordhan’s statement had to be evaluated on its own merits.
“Obviously we have to examine everything,” Ramaphosa said in a video tweeted by the presidency.
“Many people are going to be going to the commission; they are going to outline precisely how they interacted with them,” Ramaphosa said. “Including myself. I will also go to the commission and this is a commission where the truth of what happened in state capture has to come out.”
Gordhan said his submission was based on his recollection, “as well as contemporaneous correspondence and media reports, and the recollections of officials, primarily in the National Treasury, which refreshed my memory of some of these events”.
Some of the areas Gordhan covered were both his tenures as finance minister, SAA, the nuclear deal and fired Sars commissioner Tom Moyane.
Gordhan claimed Zuma made it clear he wanted the nuclear deal to go ahead, and that there were aspects of the proposed deal the commission should investigate.
He also described a meeting with Zuma about the “persecution” from the Hawks – then under Berning Ntlemeza – and Zuma allegedly said he would discuss the matter with then police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko.
“I received no information from the former president in this regard subsequent to this meeting.”
He also goes into detail about what appeared to be chance meetings with various members of the Gupta family.
“I have never been to the Gupta family compound located in Saxonwold.”
He said he had been invited to the “infamous” Gupta wedding, but had declined, met at a cricket match but did not interact and had a “cursory exchange” with Zuma’s “friend” Ajay Gupta at the presidential guest house.
Gordhan said the “misuse and abuse of public powers for suspicious objectives” was ongoing, and referred to being summoned by the public protector regarding an early retirement package offered to Ivan Pillay, the former acting Sars commissioner.
The complaint was allegedly lodged in 2016 by a former speechwriter in the Presidency, Lebogang Hoveka, claimed Gordhan.
Lackay yesterday referred all enquiries regarding the leaked submission to the commission of inquiry.
“The ministry is receiving numerous enquiries from the media. However, we are not in a position to respond, given the regulations governing the commission,” he said.
Gordhan was expected to make his submission next Thursday, with former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan expected to precede him on Monday. The Citizen.