South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

Zondo brings time of reckoning closer to Malusi Gigaba and Lynne Brown

Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown during a meeting with Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts on 30 May. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander) | Former minister Malusi Gigaba appears before the public enterprises committee on State Capture on 13 March 2018. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Former public enterprises ministers Malusi Gigaba and Lynne Brown’s borrowed time has just been cut short by the State Capture commission’s report.

Three years and two months ago, the State Capture inquiry by Parliament’s public enterprises committee made a finding of gross negligence in office against two former ministers of public enterprises – Lynne Brown and Malusi Gigaba – sending them to the State Capture Commission.

“The committee finds that the executive arm of government represented by the two former ministers – Gigaba and Brown – was grossly negligent in carrying out its responsibility as the sole shareholder of Eskom,” according to the report formally adopted by the National Assembly on 28 November 2018. It was sent to the State Capture Commission with all transcripts and supporting documents. 

On Gigaba, who was public enterprises minister from November 2010 to May 2014, that particular parliamentary inquiry held: “Minister Gigaba’s overhaul of the Eskom board introduced patterns of instability. It is not apparent that the board appointed by Minister Gigaba had been sufficiently vetted in terms of integrity, collective skills and experience to govern Eskom and execute their fiduciary responsibility.”

On Brown, who succeeded Gigaba on 25 May 2014 and remained public enterprises minister until 27 February 2018, it said: “Minister Brown’s oversight over the actions of the executive and non-executive directors was inadequate, leading to gross breaches in fiduciary duty and potentially illegal acts.”

As happens so often in South African public life, the State Capture Commission would be cited to kick into touch any action required by the report. A dearth of money, skills and staff in investigation and prosecution services played into this. 

But on 1 February 2022, Part 2 of the commission’s report delivered a scathing verdict on how Gigaba and Brown facilitated the Guptas’ capture of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Their denials of wrongdoing, or any close association with the Guptas, were dismissed.

Gigaba should be criminally investigated for “cash payments allegedly received by them during visits to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold in the period 2010-2018”, alongside former top Transnet top executives, under the 2004 Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, the commission’s report recommends. 

Gigaba should also face criminal investigation into whether the reinstatement of Siyabonga Gama as Transnet’s CEO amounted to an inducement for him to do anything, including corruption, under the 1998 Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Gigaba resigned as home affairs minister on 13 November 2018 amid a sex scandal and a ruling that he had lied in court over the Fireblade Aviation private facility at Oliver Tambo International Airport. Gigaba remains an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member.

Brown, who resigned as MP after being dropped from Cabinet after President Cyril Ramaphosa moved into the Union Buildings in February 2018, escaped a recommendation of further criminal investigation. However, the State Capture commission’s report describes her testimony variously as “ludicrous” and a “ridiculous excuse”.

That’s in relation to Denel, the once viable defence technology developer that today relies on taxpayer bailouts and remains unable to regularly pay staff in full.

“Ms Brown could not explain how it came about that the only member of the 2011 board of Denel, who was allowed to continue as a board member beyond July 2015, was Mr (Nkopane) Motseki, who had an existing relationship with the Guptas…” 

At Transnet, the commission report says Brown’s executive and board changes “saw the departure of individuals in senior management who resisted the alleged corruption and weakening of governance structures…”

The facilitation of the Guptas’ capture of Eskom – which was the core of the parliamentary inquiry – is yet to come in Part 3 of the State Capture Commission’s report, set for release at the end of February 2022. 

It remains to be seen how Eskom, among others – but also parliamentary oversight – will be dealt with then. However, Part 2 of the report is already damning.

“Egregious violations of the Constitution have been demonstrated,” it notes. Elsewhere, the report calls for greater oversight from, in particular, Parliament’s public enterprises committee “in ensuring that SOEs are not vessels of corruption, fraud and state capture”. 

“The recent history of State Capture is replete with instances where the boards, CEOs and CFOs of SOEs were appointed for ulterior purposes and not in the best interests of the SOE.”

Back in mid-2017, a directive from the House Chairperson for Committees, Cedric Frolick, asked four committees to probe State Capture claims, but only public enterprises stayed the full course. 

It had been a rough road to get to this. Brown, in a series of lawyer’s letters, had questioned the inquiry’s motives, intent and procedures. At one stage during her testimony in November 2017, she described the parliamentary inquiry as “a kangaroo court intent on reaching predetermined outcomes”.

Parliament’s committees can summon anyone and any document, according to Rule 167. It’s based on Section 56 of the Constitution,

“The National Assembly or any of its committees may summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents.”

That’s been confirmed repeatedly by the national legislature’s own lawyers, but also by independent senior counsel, as happened during the parliamentary Eskom State Capture inquiry.

At the end of her November 2017 testimony, Brown told MPs: “In conclusion, let me state unequivocally that I do not take instructions from anybody.”

Like the subsequent State Capture Commission report, the parliamentary inquiry finding in 2018 took a different view: “Minister Brown’s tenure as Minister of Public Enterprises coincided with major incidences of unauthorised, unusual or irregular expenditure.”

The parliamentary inquiry recommended improved laws and policies to nix any leeway for future inconsistencies and corruption.

“The executive must introduce the Shareholder Management Bill that was supposed to be introduced to Parliament in the 2017/18 financial year, as promised by former minister Lynne Brown in her last budget speech,” the parliamentary inquiry report recommends. “This piece of legislation is essential for strengthening oversight and defining the roles of SOEs and the shareholder (government).”

That has not yet happened, even though this legislation was part of Gigaba’s 14-point plan for economic recovery announced in July 2017, shortly after his appointment as finance minister.

Now the State Capture Commission has stepped into the breach with recommendations to not only ban ministers from appointing boards and top executives such as chief financial officers by establishing an independent body to do so instead, but also come up with legislation to protect against the abuse of public power.

With a proposed penalty of 20 years’ jail and/or a R200-million fine, the commission recommends to the government a wide-ranging law to make abuse of public power the statutory offence that it is not yet.

“Such potential violations might range from the case of a president of the Republic, who hands a large portion of the national wealth or access to that wealth to an unauthorised recipient, to the junior official who suspends a colleague out of motives of envy or revenge.”

Stalling on the 2018 parliamentary inquiry may not be too politically uncomfortable – the governing ANC told the State Capture Commission its MPs must toe the line as they represent the party in Parliament, not themselves. 

But kicking the recommendations of a commission of inquiry into touch may extract a much heavier cost, politically and in terms of public trust. DM

 

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  • My predThis article describes lies on lies. I expect the same behaviour as all other ANC accused, denial and appeal after appeal, all funded by the money stolen from south Africans. Money that should have been used for development and the poor. The ostentatious Malusi is already doing it, or maybe he just cannot read. I cannot see how the ANC survives this, particularly if the ANC crime syndicate elects these same criminals to the NEC and NWC at the end of the year or does nothing, as expected, with these reports.

  • Thanks for a good article, keep documenting the facts, the electorate are slowly but surely becoming educated and wise to the incompetence and blatant criminality
    of an ANC hell bent on staying in power whatever the cost and implications to the country and its people for the benefit of a few, they are oblivious that the world has moved on. An organisation so riddled with incompetent and corrupt individuals that continually reappear in its leadership structures irrespective of past failures is proof that they are unable to self-correct and are currently a doomed rudderless entity headed for the rocks. The sooner this sinking takes place the sooner the country can start cleaning up the mess they have proved time and time again are both incapable and reluctant to do. The politicking, in fighting, posturing and grandstanding of public servants has surely run its course.
    Let history judge the players and document their legacies.
    The Guptas are gone (for the time being) and have left their stooges behind to face the music.

  • I just have to comment on Malusi Gigaba’s response to the Zondo Commission findings.

    “3 years and R1 billion later, DCJ Raymond Zondo has found NO evidence to warrant a recommendation that I be charged with corruption. Instead of clearing me, he asks that I be investigated some more in the hope that this will kill me, politically. If only he and his handlers knew!”

    He clearly lives in a parallel universe.

    a. He seems to forget that a pimp for underage prostitutes has more credibility than he has. He is a confirmed liar in the courts.
    b. He conflates “not being charged with corruption” as being deemed to be an angel of goodness. On this false premise he chooses to ignore ALL the other findings that DCJ Zondo has made against him.
    c. His megalomaniac ego lets him think that a billion rand of State Capture Investigation costs was wasted because HE has not been convicted YET.
    d. Can he pleased be forced to say who DCJ Zondo’s “handlers” are. It is disgraceful that this compromised man can make this unsubstantiated claim about a good man. Gigaba is a fool not to know that in the real world, not his parallel one, DCJ Zondo’s handlers are “the good citizens of South Africa”, ALL OF THEM, as enshrined in the constitution.
    e. He has the concept of “handlers” in his lunatic head because his subconscious is aware that the Gupta’s were his handlers.

    I shudder to think that this disgusting and evil man still serves on the NEC of the ANC.
    Thank you DM for honest and fearless reporting.

    • “3 years and R1 billion later, DCJ Raymond Zondo has found NO evidence to warrant a recommendation that I be charged with corruption. Instead of clearing me, he asks that I be investigated some more in the hope that this will kill me, politically. If only he and his handlers knew!”
      I find that last sentence really ominous. What are they supposed to know? What fresh hell awaits us?

      • I would not worry too much. Jacob Zuma was the king of making these vacuous yet threatening statements and look where he is now. Gigaba is out of office and I like to think of him as the Emperor With No Clothes, which is quite funny because of his foray into the porn industry. Anyway he is a HAS BEEN of note and if he ever has a political career in South Africa it will be to the UTTER DISGRACE of any political party that allows this disturbed and evil man the chance to continue the carnage that he so clearly did start and would love to continue doing. So he can tweet and twitter his stupidity for all to see and help bury his already lost political career.

  • Marianne’s article is a stark reminder of the time soon after DM and amaBhungani released the first of the Gupta emails in May 2017. After a hiatus of almost 10 years, when I hardly ever watched news, or read any news articles, with sport my only interest, those emails kickstart a interest in political news which has not subsided yet. The year 2017 is possibly the year that political news took on a new meaning, with news journalists falling over each other to cover stories. I became an avid eNCA viewer, almost fanatical. And right in the middle of those first news stories/articles, were Mr. Gigaba, and Miss Brown. It was like a action thriller movie.
    Gigaba, once the president of the ANC youth league, was touted by many to be a future president of the country. And he also believe that, since the mighty Jacob Zuma was right behind, grooming him to be his successor. And the mentorship by Zuma kicked into place. First the introduction to the Gupta’s, then appointing him to one key Cabinet post after another. Of course he also became a social celebrity. Impeccable dress code, to being a movie star in XXX films, and with what seems like having lovers all over the globe. And now? Still a trusted cadre of the ANC, parading in what must now be wearing expensive suites for only the second or third time.
    The less said about Brown, the better. She simply was a puppet to Zuma and the Gupta’s, despite her once public claim that she never actually met any of the Gupta’s.
    Eish!

  • It is clear – The anc can not sink much lower than where it is. There is no morality nor integrity left in this criminal organisation. If there had been, as cr constantly claims, the leadership, at the least, would long ago have been cleansed of thieves, liars, murderers?, corrupt individuals, etc.

  • That Gigaba remains a member of the ANC’s NEC shows how little pride the other members have. I would be so ashamed and angered to even have this odious character in the same room me, as would all good citizens. Birds of a feather, the NEC?

  • Why do I feel uncomfortable that every comment to this article and similar articles seem to be made by “whities” like me? Would it be wrong to conclude that there are no people of colour who read DM? I don’t believe that this is true so why do we not read more “colourful” comment?

    • A good question. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say that 90% of readers are reading what they expect to hear. South Africans are not great people for debate and really want to read what they already agree with. Read some other publications and you’ll understand what the average reader contributes.

  • Brown , Gwede and Nkosazama Dlamini Zuma – the real rot at the core of the ANC – should all be tried for treason along with Gigaba, Jacob Zuma and co and jailed for life. Why have the Guptas not been extradited to stand trial in SA? Where is the international court in all of this….?

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