Fasten your seatbelts: Barbara Hogan is aiming straight for the Guptas
The Mumbai air route? Appointments to SOE boards? She's about to dish the dirt on everything to Zondo
Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan is on Wednesday expected to testify how then president Jacob Zuma made it difficult for her to do her job and how his friends, the Guptas, pressurised her into scrapping a lucrative flight route to benefit their business interests.
Hogan — who during the funeral of her late husband, struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada, last year described Zuma as a president who had “gone rogue” and “defied his own party” — is expected to tell all when the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture resumes Wednesday.
The struggle stalwart is expected to give evidence about the events building up to Zuma’s 2010 cabinet reshuffle and her knowledge of the reasons she had been fired. She was one of seven ministers removed during Zuma’s first of 11 cabinet reshuffles.
The stalwart, who served as public enterprises minister between 2009 and 2010, will attest to the pressure she endured from members of the controversial Gupta family and their business associates to scrap a lucrative flight route between Johannesburg and Mumbai, which at the time was dominated by South African Airways.
Hogan’s testimony is also expected to describe the working relationship between herself and Zuma.
In 2016, she was interviewed by then public protector Thuli Madonsela, her statement forming an integral part of Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
In the interview, Hogan said Zuma and then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe “took interest” in her mandate to make appointments to the boards of various state-owned entities such as Eskom, Transnet and Denel.
Leaked e-mails from within the Gupta business empire revealed in 2017 showed how the family and their associates used their influence over government officials to score millions in tenders from these state-owned companies.
Hogan told Madonsela that Zuma was particularly interested in the board members at Eskom and Transnet and Mantashe in those at Transnet specifically.
She also alleged Zuma made it difficult for her to do her job – at a certain point not allowing her to appoint senior managers in her department.
In the interview, Hogan also described a state visit to India in 2010, where she noticed members of the Gupta family had allegedly “taken over control of the proceedings and were appearing to be directing the programme”.
During the visit, she said the chief executive of Jet Airways wanted to meet her on several occasions.
It was the same Indian airline that chartered an aircraft to the Guptas to carry members of their family to a Sun City wedding in 2013.
It is believed the Guptas lobbied government officials to drop SAA’s profitable flight routes between Johannesburg and Mumbai in favour of Jet Airways.
The allegations were corroborated in the testimony of former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor who told the commission last month she was offered Hogan’s job in 2010 in exchange for doing the Guptas’ bidding – which including cancelling the same flight routes.
Mentor turned down the offer and Hogan was axed by Zuma soon afterwards. She was replaced by now Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Hogan’s relationship with Zuma has since soured, and she has emerged as one of the voices advocating against state capture and corruption.
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan is expected to testify on Friday.
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