21/02/2018 14:17 SAST | Updated 21/02/2018 14:17 SAST

Gigaba Is A Man Under Pressure

Malusi Gigaba is a man under pressure. That much was clear before he delivered his budget speech.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will be appealing a judgment by a full bench of the North Gauteng High Court that found he lied about granting permission for the establishment of a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport while he was minister of home affairs.

Judge Neil Tuchten wrote in his judgment, which was delivered in December: "By telling a deliberate untruth on facts central to the decision of this case, the minister has committed a breach of the Constitution so serious that I would characterise it as a violation."

The court denied Gigaba leave to appeal. He will now make a direct representation to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Gigaba was as dapper as ever when he started to address a press conference on Wednesday ahead of his maiden budget speech, but ended it with a furrowed brow after questions relating to the court judgment and perceptions about his integrity were posed to him.

He denied that he ever agreed to the establishment of the terminal, a request by Fireblade Aviation, a company owned by the Oppenheimer family.

"If there was a decision, an agreement, why did they not implement that decision? We told them to resolve their issues with Denel. We can't say yes because they're the landlord. If they sorted out their issues with Denel then they could have come back. But then they attempt to bully the minister of home affairs to agree to something in a building that is not operated by the department," he said.

Gigaba added "something was amiss" and that "various institutions" would be appealing the matter. He did not want to be drawn on Tuchten's scathing comments about his breach of the Constitution. He also did not answer a question about whether or not he had informed President Cyril Ramaphosa about the judgment.

Gigaba, who was appointed minister of finance on 30 March 2017 after then-president Jacob Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan, said in reply to a question that he looked forward to present his case to the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. He also warned his critics that they would have to be prepared to be disappointed when his role is interrogated.

"What matters aren't untested allegations. The court of public opinion... in fact, it is not a court at all, it just lynches us and perpetrates perceptions. What matters is the little thing of facts and the truth.

"It is an important process which I have supported vociferously from the beginning, I have never minced my words about where I stand. I will answer all the questions about my integrity. The truth will come out. But those that make the allegations must be prepared to listen to the facts."

Gigaba declared his support for Ramaphosa and said his critics mustn't worry about his future.

"It is the president's prerogative, I will support the president whatever he decides. We serve at his pleasure, he appoints, replaces and reshuffles us. I believe in his vision and he needs our wholehearted report support in whatever way he decides to go."