Gordhan: ‘Come straight to me, not my family’
Zondo vows that state capture probe won't be cowed by the many attacks directed at it and its witnesses
Justice Raymond Zondo has vowed that the state capture inquiry will proceed despite attacks on him, commission staff and witnesses.
“There are some people who would not like this commission to continue or succeed,” Zondo said. “We are quite clear there is a job to be done for the country, and we will do it. We will not be deterred.”
Zondo said large sections of society were offering their full support for the commission and appreciated the sacrifices being made for it to continue. “There are also concerns for our safety.”
Zondo was speaking after public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan delivered an emotional closing statement at the end of two-and-a-half days of testimony. Gordhan said the “fightback phenomenon” against corruption was now “becoming dangerous”, with attacks against the commission, witnesses and their families.
“We are also seeing a very practical manifestation of ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. All sorts of new alliances are being drawn in order to attack this process ... when you have a very loose political foundation and probably no principles at all to back up what one is engaged in, then anything goes,” Gordhan said.
He also took a swipe at the EFF again, challenging those making a barrage of allegations against him to come before the commission to testify.
“Witnesses appearing before the commission, like myself, are quite willing to be attacked politically, quite willing to be criticised politically, quite willing to be corrected if we presented wrong evidence. But it would be very nice if our critics come forward under oath and present themselves to this commission,” said Gordhan.
He responded to allegations that his daughter Anisha had used her relationship with him to acquire lucrative government contracts and amass billions in personal wealth.
“The allegation of using the relationship with myself to get access to government tenders to benefit these companies is a blatant lie. These dangerous and unfounded allegations have been made to intimidate and harass my family and myself,” Gordhan said.
He said Anisha was employed by Investec as part of a team of 12 private equity professionals and represented the bank as a nonexecutive director on the boards of companies.
“It’s not her money. Their job is to look after the money of the bank and the investors,” Gordhan said.
He warned his critics to not attack vulnerable targets.
“Come straight to me, not my family,” he said.
Earlier Gordhan said former president Jacob Zuma had manipulated and lied to the executive on a number of issues. In response to a question from Zondo, about who had misled the executive, Gordhan responded: “I think in the first instance the president did [mislead], for asking us to look at intervention in the relationship between banks and their clients, for example, pushing the nuclear deal, as was indicated already.
“This comes back to the hypothesis of state capture, allowing for particular types of boards in SOEs to be established [and] putting in place particular ministers. All that, when you look at it with perspective, one sees that there was a scheme at play, designed by somebody,” said Gordhan. Asked by Zondo about the response of the ANC to state capture and why there was a reluctance by its members to come forward to expose it, Gordhan said there had been a culture of fear.
“The reality is that there was a cloud of fear – a fear for one’s life, a fear for one’s family, fear of losing one’s job. But that cloud of fear in the more formal sense shouldn’t be underestimated,” he said.
Gordhan said there were also conspiracy theories doing the rounds, as well as fake intelligence reports targeting at certain individuals.
In his testimony, Gordhan told how Zuma used a two-page bogus intelligence report to justify firing him and his former deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.
He said Zuma had intended to fire him before his application for a declaratory order against intervening on the Gupta bank accounts was to be heard by the Pretoria High Court.
“One could surmise that the intention was to get rid of us, put in another minister and withdraw the application to the Pretoria High Court,” Gordhan said.
Former national treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile took the witness stand after Gordhan, relating what happened around the time Nhlanhla Nene was fired as finance minister in December 2015.
He said after it was announced that Nene was axed and Des van Rooyen would be appointed, he received a call from ANC national executive committee member Enoch Gondongwana, who said: “You are now going to get a Gupta minister, who will be arriving with his advisers.”
Fuzile said when he met one of Van Rooyen’s advisers, he connected the dots as to what Godongwana had said.
Godongwana told him the new minister would arrive with people he did not know as his advisers, who would be “given” to him by the Guptas.
Fuzile said he was “perplexed”.
His evidence will continue on Thursday, after which treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane will testify.