DAYS OF ZONDO

Zuma and ANC NEC allegedly ignored Mbalula’s disturbing Gupta disclosure

By Jessica Bezuidenhout 1 March 2019

Then president Jacob Zuma with Minister of Communication Siphiwe Nyanda at the Union Buildings in Pretoria Tuesday, 10 November 2009, where he was presented with the new presidential stamp by the South African Post Office. (Photo by Gallo Images/Foto24/Alet Pretorius)

On Thursday afternoon, General Siphiwe Nyanda took the witness stand to confirm that former President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s highest decision-making body, the National Executive Committee, allegedly turned a blind eye to a damning revelation by Fikile Mbalula that the Guptas were the first to inform him of his appointment to the Cabinet in 2010.

Fikile Mbalula has already publicly confirmed claims by former finance minister Trevor Manuel that he made this shocking disclosure at an NEC meeting in 2011 — yet no action was taken, allowing the Gupta rot to fester for another six years.

Manuel testified early on Thursday about the meeting and how Mbalula had allegedly wept when he revealed this to fellow ANC members.

General Siphiwe Nyanda, a former minister of communications who was sacked by Zuma in October 2010 in the same Cabinet reshuffle that saw the appointment of Mbalula, took the witness stand at the State Capture commission on Thursday afternoon.

Nyanda replaced by (the now late) Roy Padayachie, a known Gupta acolyte, for reasons he has never been able to pin down.

Although unable to recall whether Mbalula had cried when he shared this worrying development with his comrades at the 2011 NEC meeting, Nyanda confirmed Manuel’s testimony about Mbalula’s disclosure.

Nyanda said the revelation confirmed what had then been “whispers” of a Gupta hand in government appointments.

What was remarkable was that Mbalula had made this revelation. He was upset about such information coming from people who had no business knowing this. He had been the deputy minister of police until then.”

He said he believed Mbalula’s disclosure was genuine and an attempt to bring it to the attention of the ANC in order for the party to deal with it.

Yet this, in effect a “direct accusation” against Zuma, triggered no action from anyone, not the NEC, nor officials serving on the ANC’s Top Six structure at the time.

Nyanda said the Mbalula revelation was extremely serious, adding that the onus was on Zuma to respond.

The person who bore responsibility for Cabinet appointments is the president.”

This was a very serious claim, made by an NEC member and Cabinet minister, that Zuma had been “derelict” and had allegedly given the Guptas information prior to Mbalula being informed, or else he had given them the role of informing him.

He told the commission that he had expected Zuma to respond to such a “direct” accusation.

Asked whether, apart from the silence from Zuma and the Top Six officials, anyone else in the room had raised it for discussion, Nyanda said he could not recall.

However, he said he doubted whether anyone, back then, would have been bold enough to engage on the issue in this forum, chaired by Zuma.

Until this moment, Nyanda said, there had only been rumours of Zuma’s links to the Guptas and that many (government) decisions were being taken at their Saxonwold home.

During all his years in government, first as Chief of the SA Defence Force and later as a Cabinet minister, no one ever came to him with a dodgy request, Nyanda testified.

He confirmed that Zuma’s son, Duduzane, had once, by appointment, arrived at his office with the Guptas to “introduce” him to their companies.

They later tried to see me again, sent emissaries to ask for a meeting.”

Nyanda said no meeting happened as they refused to meet at his office.

He also provided insight to the commission of his involvement with various memoranda sent to the ANC in 2016 by ANC stalwarts, military veterans and former government directors-general, to bring the damaging effects of Zuma’s presidency and the role of the Guptas to the attention of officials at Luthuli House.

Part of that mission included a meeting with Zuma at which he was asked to step down as leader of the governing party.

Zuma, Nyanda testified, reminded them that he was not going anywhere, that he had been elected as President of the ANC by the branches.

The Commission resumes on Friday with testimony by Eskom Treasurer Andre Frank Pillay. DM

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