NATIONAL NEWS - Former minister of public enterprises Malusi Gigaba has said that “a whole lot of” witnesses at the commission of inquiry into state capture who have made allegations against him were “dishonest and disingenuous” and that those allegations were not true, because they were made by individuals who were the “favourites of the media at the time”.
Gigaba said it was easy for individuals to make allegations, but it was important that these allegations were backed up with proof.
The former minister said his lawyers regularly communicate with the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, to provide clarity or give his side of the story whenever an allegation is levelled against him.
Gigaba said on Thursday during an interview on the Clement Manyathela Show on radio 702 that though he could not say when exactly he would appear before the commission, the opportunity would eventually avail itself.
“The fact that they have made those allegations doesn’t make those allegations to be binding because they have only stated their own points of view.
“When I came to public enterprises, SAA [South African Airways] was in dire financial distress, it had applied for several bailouts. There was instability at management and board levels. Eskom had just been given a R350 billion government guarantee, so it was already in financial distress.
“The Medupi, Kusile [power stations] were delayed and … Transnet was not in any financial distress back then and even now,” he said, adding that the test of allegations was whether they were truthful and those making them could back them up, and whether they could also respond to allegations against themselves.
Zondo has heard a number of allegations against Gigaba during witness testimony at the commission.
These include that there had been a breakdown in good governance at SAA during Gigaba’s tenure as the minister of public enterprises.
Gigaba took office at the ministry in November 2010, replacing Barbara Hogan.
Hogan’s firing was seen as a means to make way for realising a plan, allegedly pushed by the Guptas, for the government to cease the Johannesburg-Mumbai SAA flight route – a plan opposed by then SAA chairperson Cheryl Carolus.
Former ANC member of parliament Vytjie Mentor also alleged at the commission that Gigaba implemented the Guptas’ India flights plans.
Mentor told the commission that Ajay Gupta had asked her about stopping SAA’s Johannesburg-Mumbai flights, which she refused, and that Gigaba did so when he replaced Hogan. Mentor alleged that while at the Gupta compound she had been offered the post of minister of public enterprises.
Carolus testified at the commission that Gigaba not only lied to the Speaker of parliament in 2012 when he claimed that the SAA board she chaired had not yet submitted an audited financial statement but also to the board, “attempting to frustrate them”.