South Africa

ANALYSIS

Malusi Gigaba: The suits, the selling of South Africa, and the psychic pain of corruption

Illustrative image | Sources: Former minister Malusi Gigaba. (Photos: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander) | Norma Mngoma. (Photos: Gallo Images / Phill Magakoe) | Atul Gupta. (Photo: Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Robert Tshabalala) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images ) | Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Kevin Sutherland | Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Norma Mngoma sheds unprecedented light on how her estranged husband, Malusi Gigaba, became embroiled in State Capture.

Almost 200 suits! Norma Mngoma testified when she appeared before the State Capture Inquiry on Thursday, May 22 that her estranged husband Malusi Gigaba had a wardrobe of perhaps 200 suits. They were housed in two full rooms of their home, and of late, he had put some into storage.

That is a store full of suits owned by a single individual.

Mngoma testified that when she and her husband visited the Gupta estate in Saxonwold — about 20 times, according to her recollection — on several occasions he left with cash stashed in a big bag in his car boot. When they got to Sandton City he would transfer some of the cash to a stylish man-bag and then he would shop for suits. 

Gigaba wears a suit well.

In 2017, he attended his first (and only) World Economic Forum Africa summit, as finance minister at the International Convention Centre in Durban. Gigaba was parachuted into the role after former president Jacob Zuma went full State Capture after incumbents Pravin Gordhan and his deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jonas, were fired.

All eyes were on Gigaba at his first major public event, and he pulled it off, speaking the language of fiscal rectitude and good governance. I remember only his varied suits from that occasion: perfectly tailored and cut for the occasion. They were like a costume deployed to convey legitimacy. 

Gigaba used the suits to convey belonging to the club and the establishment, symbolising his commitment to global capital rules and not to its crasser cousin — State Capture. To reveal how he changes costume like a political chameleon, today Gigaba wears ANC garb and speaks the language of Radical Economic Transformation.

But as we now know, Gigaba was a lynchpin of State Capture. He used two Cabinet positions to further the ambitions of the Gupta family. The charmless Indian emigré family pulled off the heist of a country with the help of politicians like Gigaba. At the Home Affairs ministry he helped them get residence and citizen permits to do business in South Africa in fields from mining to media.

During his tenure as Public Enterprises minister from 2010 to 2014, Gigaba could be likened to the chief of staff of State Capture. He did not last long enough as finance minister to execute the final plan, as South Africans went into open rebellion against State Capture.

As we now know from Mngoma’s and other testimony, Gigaba shifted executives at Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Denel as Ajay Gupta dictated. Even when he didn’t want to axe straight-up executives like former Eskom CEO Brian Dames and former SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe, he was forced to pay off his Faustian pact with the Guptas, Mngoma revealed in her testimony.

This enabled control of state-owned enterprises that became the arena for the execution for most of State Capture and the extraction of hundreds of billions of rands in public money meant for power generation, a new transport system and the growth of the flagship airline, SAA. 

Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Denel are now all on their last legs, dependent on bailouts because of State Capture. The husks are Gigaba’s legacy, although he denies that he had anything to do with the system that caused their demise. 

Gigaba, a former ANC Youth League president touted as a future president of South Africa, has been transmogrified by corruption. Now he comes across as a man who sold his country for a wardrobe of finely cut suits and two watches bought from a souk in Dubai.

Mngoma said in her testimony that on a visit to the Emirate state, sponsored by the Guptas, Ajay Gupta took her husband shopping to a souk (bazaar). They returned with two watches bought for him — and he was very excited with the gift of expensive trinkets. For what the Guptas received in return for his patronage, the watches were piffling. In his testimony, Gigaba was confident in his denials of everything his estranged wife alleged, although the detail of her evidence suggested the authenticity of lived experience.

One part of Mngoma’s testimony suggests he is paying the price for selling out his country for trinkets and suits. She said that Gigaba developed migraines when Ajay Gupta piled on the pressure for him to fire Dames and Kalawe. When Gigaba stopped taking the oldest brother’s calls, Gupta reportedly told him, “Remember why we put you there”, about his job and purpose at Public Enterprises. Later, Zuma demoted him back to Home Affairs, said Mngoma. This cut Gigaba to the core as he always thought he came first for the head of state, she said.

In Can Themba’s legendary short story The Suit, Matilda is tortured by her husband Philemon, who uses her lover’s suit, left behind as he ran from their tryst, to symbolise her infidelity. In the same way, Gigaba’s suits now seem a symbol of his selling and sell-out of his country. DM

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All Comments 18

  • I find it eina how so many people were bought off for SO little: a splash-up birthday party, bags of nyama, spiffy suits, a Range Rover Evoque, a 5-star stay at the Oberoi, a pondok in Waterkloof. It’s neo-colonialism repeated: beads, mirrors, cloth, booze. Eish. The Guptas are now in Uzbekistan!

    • Well said. My feelings exactly, they sold the country & their souls to the lowest bidders for a pittance & trinkets. No feelings for those whose futures they’ve stolen. No pride no self respect, just pure greed, plenty of arrogance with a large dose of stupidity.

      It’s nothing less than treason.

      • Well, that’s not my point really. Our people are NOT peasants. They are living breathing human beings with more or less understanding of the world. Being naive and vulnerable to being tricked by more worldly players isn’t a sin or character defect. Thieves (the Guptas) prey upon these weaknesses.

  • A prison suit would look just fine and dandy. Migraine!? I’m amazed this guy sleeps a wink. But undoubtedly, Zondo didn’t just uncover suits – where’s the cash trail? And why hasn’t the ANC insisted Gigaba stand down?

  • The worst partof the whole thing, is that goods of so little intrinsic value changed hands – no monies put away for the future, nothing but useless things to make appearances better. So futile and sad!

  • It exhausts me just to read this – the blatant denials are even more tiresome. It is like these people live in their own parallel universe – it only makes sense to them!

  • Majority of govt officials and politicians are corrupt in every country across the world… they just do it in a more subtle way. Here fortunately, there’s a desperation to get the loot, the trail is relatively easy to follow. If our NPA could only step up and do something… SARS too could help…

  • We’re now immune to the travesties perpetrated against us by ANC top echelon. Poor Zondo. He knows half of what he hears are lies. Trouble is he cannot prove which half. Bond, Casino Royale script, “when you’ve been trading secrets as long as I have the good guys and the bad guys get all mixed up”.

  • Why is Malusi Gigaba walking around like a free man?
    He is complicit in the most sickening crimes of conning the entire country.