Former minister Hogan next witness at state capture commission

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JOHANNESBURG, September 10 – Former minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan will take the stand on Wednesday at the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Hogan’s name came up at the inquiry during ex-MP Vytjie Mentor’s evidence two weeks ago. Mentor told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that Gupta family patriarch Ajay offered her the post of public enterprises minister in 2010 to replace Hogan. The former MP was chairwoman of Parliament’s state enterprises committee at the time.

She said she was told the post of public enterprises minister would be hers only if she agreed to discontinue the South African Airways (SAA) flights to Mumbai, India. Mentor said the offer was made at the Gupta’s Saxonwold compound while former president Jacob Zuma was in the next room. She refused to take the offer, she said. Malusi Gigaba was then appointed public enterprises minister and implemented the Guptas’ instruction taking away the Mumbai route from SAA, replacing SAA with Jet Airways, Mentor testified.

The commission on Monday heard how the Gupta media entities, Infinity Media (ANN7) and The new Age newspaper scored R260 million from government departments. At least 95 percent of the money, R248 million, went to the newspaper, said national Treasury official Jan Gilliland. He tracked and traced millions paid by the Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS), other State departments, and provincial premiers to the Guptas.

Gilliland said between 2011 and 2012 GCIS spending on the Gupta-owned media house increased dramatically while Mzwanele ”Jimmy” was in charge at GCIS, having replaced Themba Maseko. Gilliland testified that Gupta entities received R7 million in 2011 and R29 million in 2012.  TNA was launched in 2010, while ANN7 started broadcasting three years later in 2013.

Manyi then took over control of the media entities from the Guptas through a vendor financing deal in 2017, as the family packed and left South Africa for Dubai. The former government spin doctor has successfully liquidated the media company, citing insolvency.

Zondo is this week expected to rule on applications by the Guptas and Duduzane to cross-examine witnesses.

Duduzane Zuma has decided to testify and give his side of the story at the state capture commission it emerged.

Head of the commission’s legal team, Paul Pretorius, said a letter was received from Duduzane’s legal representatives stating that he has changed his mind and will give testimony.

‘We have now received instructions from Mr Duduzane Zuma to inform the commission that he is prepared to give evidence as a witness before the commission, with reference to the subject matter raised by Mr Jonas in his evidence,” Pretorius read the letter to Zondo.

Duduzane had opted not to testify as he was facing parallel criminal charges. The charges relate to an alleged R600 million bribe offered to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas by the Gupta family at their Saxonwold compound in the presence of Duduzane and controversial businessman, Fana Hlongwane. Duduzane’s corruption case is in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.

Jonas testified that Duduzane had arranged a meeting with him through calls and text messages. The two then finally met at an upmarket hotel in Rosebank in 2016 where Duduzane kept telling Jonas how his father liked him. He said he was then driven to the Gupta mansion in Saxonwold by Duduzane ”to meet with more people” in a private space. The former deputy minister said this is when Ajay Gupta offered him the position of finance minister and a R600 million bribe to ”stash away in any account’ anywhere in the world. Ajay boasted to Jonas that the family had made many people rich, including Duduzane, who had become a billionaire. Duduzane and Hlongwane remained quiet and did not utter a word when the offers were made, said Jonas.

Ajay then offered Jonas, according to his testimony, a pre-payment of R600,000 on the spot as he stood up to leave for a flight to Cape Town.  Jonas said he rejected both the offers and left.

African National Congress (ANC) Presidency spokesman Zizi Kodwa said his party welcomed Duduzane’s decision to give evidence.

”We overwhelmingly welcome the fact that people are warming up [to the commission] and want to testify. People are now seeing that the commission is the only platform to deal with this [state capture] matter,” Kodwa told reporters on the sidelines of the inquiry on Monday.

The Gupta brothers – Ajay, Rajesh and Atul – will have to submit affidavits regarding their refusal to travel to South Africa to testify at the commission of inquiry into state capture, inquiry chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said on Monday.

The family and former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, have applied to the commission to be allowed to cross-examine witnesses such as ex-MP Vytjie Mentor, former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas. The three gave explosive testimony implicating the Guptas, Zuma and Duduzane.

The family has, through their legal representative, told Zondo that they preferred to testify via video link from a location in Dubai, than travel to South Africa and be subjected to more ”incompetence by the police and prosecutors”. Evidence leader Vincent Maleka argued last week against Guptas preference for video link, and told Zondo that the family wanted the commission to work according to their terms. The family’s evidence, he said, was not ”worth a paper written on” and was all about them portraying themselves as innocent in the state capture saga.

Zondo will rule on the applications to cross-examine this week.

Last week’s damning testimony by Government Communication Information System (GCIS) acting CEO Phumla Williams implicated former communications minister Faith Muthambi. Williams described Muthambi rule at the department as a ”a reign of terror and stealing”. Muthambi has not requested permission to cross-examine Williams while the former president has reportedly said the evidence presented so far at the commission does not implicate him in any wrongdoing and would therefore not request to cross-examine witnesses.

Maleka told the commission one person who had refused to testify ”had a change of heart” and would testify. He did not reveal who that was.

The commission is on Monday hearing evidence from national treasury official Jan Gilliland who traced the millions of rands paid from government coffers to Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper and news television network ANN7. (ANA)