NEWS
13/03/2018 10:14 SAST | Updated 13/03/2018 18:54 SAST

After Gigaba Testimony In Parliament, Summonses Imminent For Myeni, Guptas And Duduzane

Gigaba says corruption and state capture have cost the South African economy billions of rands.

Rogan Ward / Reuters
Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba.

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Former SAA boss Dudu Myeni, former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane, and the three Gupta brothers are all to be summonsed to appear before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.

Losing patience on Tuesday after several no-shows, MPs serving on the public enterprises portfolio committee, which is conducting the probe, were all in agreement the five be legally compelled to appear before them.

While serving summons on Myeni in Johannesburg appears straightforward, the same does not apply to Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, widely believed to be in Dubai. Duduzane Zuma's whereabouts are currently not known.

Warrants of arrest were reportedly issued by the Hawks last month for Atul and Rajesh Gupta, in connection with the Estina dairy project.

Inquiry chair Zukiswa Rantho said a date for their appearance would be decided on by the committee. It is understood this will fall within the next few weeks.

MPs were particularly incensed by the letter received on Monday from Myeni.

The DA's Natasha Mazzone said the committee had received no doctor's note from Myeni, while the nature of letter she had sent was "written in such an aggressive and such a disparaging manner... that I find it truly appalling".

Extracts from the letter were widely publicised in various media earlier on Tuesday.

Mazzone called for a summons to be issued, a call echoed by all her committee colleagues.

"It is simply impossible to finish without the testimony of Ms Myeni," she said.

The EFF's Floyd Shivambu called for an "independent evaluation" of Myeni's health, suggesting she might be feigning a "fake illness to avoid this [inquiry] process".

Myeni has failed to appear before the inquiry on three occasions.

Rantho revealed that the committee had also received a letter from Duduzane Zuma's attorneys, who said their client had not received all the documents he needed to make a submission.

On the Gupta brothers, it emerged that the trio had recently changed lawyers.

According to African Christian Democratic Party MP Steve Swart: "I notice [in a letter received by the committee] they say they're acting for the three Gupta brothers. And that the three have now changed lawyers... They say the previous lawyers no longer act for them."

Swart said the letter contained "very serious allegations" made against the committee.

"They say there is unfair questioning... and that 'our clients are not prepared to subject themselves to an irresponsible investigation'," he said.

Rantho said the tone of the letters was worrying.

"I'm worried about the language they are using when they write to us."

Swart, speaking to HuffPost at the end of the inquiry session, said the law made provision for a summons to be served to a residential address in the absence of the person summonsed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the inquiry heard testimony from Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Giga

EARLIER: Gigaba addresses Gupta passport saga

Does Ajay Gupta have a South African passport or not?

EFF MP Floyd Shivambu posed this question to Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier, testifying before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture, Gigaba had told MPs: "I don't know. I will have to check that."

Complaining that many of Gigaba's answers did not "get to the point clearly", Shivambu felt bound to repeat the question.

"Does Ajay Gupta have a passport or not?" he asked Gigaba.

The response Shivambu got revealed that Gigaba's department – unbeknown to its new minister – may possibly have issued one to the controversial Gupta brother.

"Mr Ajay Gupta is a permanent residence holder. The department of home affairs does not issue passports to permanent residence holders.

"If it has, we would have to investigate how that happened. I have already instructed the department to consider revoking his permanent residence permit in light of the allegations that have been levelled against him.

"And if he is found to be holding a South African passport, we would investigate how that happened. Because as a permanent residence holder, he's not supposed to be in possession of a South African passport."

Shivambu then told Gigaba there was a copy of Ajay Gupta's passport circulating on social media.

"How long is it going to take to do this investigation?" he wanted to know.

But Gigabe told him he was confused. "You are confusing Ajay with Atul," he told Shivambu.

Shivambu was adamant he was correct. "I can show you the evidence."

Gigaba said he would like to get a copy, and see the source. "Because from social media you can electronically generate anything. There is a death certificate circulating on social media of someone who died of polony. The certificate is obviously not authentic," he said.

There was then a heated exchange between Gigaba and Shivambu, when the latter queried his birthplace, and that of his father.

Gigaba responded that he had been subjected to a "vilification campaign" on this matter.

Shivambu started to tell him that there were allegations he was not of South African origin, but was quickly shut down by the inquiry chair, who told him he could not "directly attack" the minister and get into "personal" matters.

Later, Shivambu asked Gigaba if he had ever visited the Gupta family estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.

"I have never been to discuss government-related activities," Gigaba replied.

Shivambu persisted. "But have you ever been in your private capacity?"

Gigaba said he had done so "several times".

"And what would several times mean, Mr Gigaba?"

"Anything between two and three, but after that I stopped," Gigaba explained.

Shivambu then asked him: "So if someone was to say that you have been to the Gupta compound more than five times, you would say you have not done that?"

In an apparently evasive response, Gigaba told him: "Well, they would have calculated. If that's what you want to say you would have to provide... "

Interrupted, and pushed to put a clear figure on the number of visits, Gigaba then said he could not recall.

"I was not calculating."

EARLIER: The impact of state capture and corruption on the economy

The cost of corruption and state capture cost the South African economy billions of rands, Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba told MPs on Tuesday.

"I've heard people guesstimating about what has been the cost [of state capture] to the economy, counting it in billions. And I think that they are absolutely correct," he said, responding to a question during his appearance before the parliamentary inquiry into governance at state-owned companies.

Gigaba served as finance minister from March 31 last year – following former president Jacob Zuma's controversial dismissal of the much-respected Pravin Gordhan – until a fortnight ago, when he was replaced by Nhlanhla Nene.

On Tuesday, Gigaba said there had been a "slowing down of the economy in 2017 as the allegations of state capture and corruption were prevalent".

Responding to a question, he said negative perceptions had caused investors to withhold their capital.

"It [corruption] creates a negative perception about the country among investors. I think it's become so endemic that investors' concerns – and not only international, but domestic – about good governance, about political stability and policy sustainability, have become so huge that investors were withholding their investments."

Gigaba said 2017 had been a difficult year for the South African economy, but it had grown at 1.3 percent.

"Imagine what could have happened had all these concerns not been there. We could have out-performed ourselves."

He told the inquiry earlier that, from December last year, there had been an improvement in the exchange rate, and the appetite of investors for stock had increased as it became obvious that steps were being taken to address the state capture and corruption problem.

"As actions were taken... there was a positive sentiment.

"So there is a very high cost to corruption and allegations of state capture, and there is benefit to action being taken against those issues.

"That's why it's important that the country, not only for... international investor perception, but for our own good as a country – we should be seen to be taking drastic measures in this regard."

EARLIER: 'The issue of Gupta citizenship'

The parliamentary inquiry into state capture at state-owned companies on Tuesday heard there were 62 members of the Gupta family in South Africa.

In a series of heated exchanges with EFF MP Marshall Dlamini, newly appointed home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba revealed that of this total, 39 held permanent residence, 13 were naturalised South African citizens and 10 were children born in the country.

Prior to his current post, which he took up a fortnight ago, Gigaba previously served as home affairs minister from May 25, 2014 to March 31, 2017.

Responding to a question from Dlamini on Tuesday, he said: "You having raised the issue of Gupta citizenship. I will deal with it in comprehensive detail, because the honourable member makes an inaccurate assertion that I'm at the centre of the naturalisation of the Gupta family members.

"There are 62 Gupta people in South Africa with the Gupta family. Of the 62, there are 39 who hold permanent residence permits. There are 13 who hold naturalisation, nine of whom were naturalised between 2002 and 2006. And only four who were naturalised in 2015. And there are 10 children [who] were born in South Africa.

"So the nine who were naturalised between 2002 and 2006, when I was not minister of home affairs... that being the majority, including those who got permanent residence permits prior to my appointment as home affairs minister, that doesn't place me at the centre of the naturalisation of the Gupta family members."

Gigabe said the "letter of the law was followed to the full extent" in the case of the four Guptas who were naturalised in 2015. He at this point did not name the four.

"They started to apply in 2013, when I was not minister of home affairs; their application was rejected in 2014, and they appealed in 2015."

The department then established a panel, in terms of which their citizenship process was approved.

"If there was malicious intent to grant them South African citizenship, regardless of what South African law stipulated, they would not have been asked at the end of the process to renounce Indian citizenship, and upon one member refusing to renounce it, he was not granted South African citizenship, and is not one as we speak."

Earlier, Gigaba told the inquiry he had felt offended by a question from Dlamini.

But the latter was undeterred, telling him: "You are saying that when I ask questions, you are getting offended. Let me tell you now, I don't care about that. You can get offended as much as you want; I'm going to ask questions, and you're going to provide answers. So that doesn't bother me."

Gigaba responded: "Neither do I care whether you try to offend me or not. It's okay. It's a draw."

Dlamini then asked Gigaba a series of questions targeting the Gupta brothers, specifically when they acquired South African citizenship and were naturalised.

"Atul Gupta, does he have South African citizenship?"

Gigaba responded: "Yes, he was naturalised in 2002, when I was not even a member of Parliament."

Further, he told the inquiry that Rajesh 'Tony' Gupta was naturalised in 2006, but Ajay Gupta "is not a naturalised South African citizen; he holds a permanent residence permit only, because he refused to renounce Indian citizenship".

Asked if Ajay Gupta had a South African passport, Gigaba replied: "I don't know, I will have to check that. But holders of permanent residence permits are not issued with South African passports."

EARLIER: State capture and its impact on the economy

Corruption and state capture have cost the South African economy billions of rands, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told MPs at the parliamentary inquiry into state capture at state-owned enterprises on Tuesday.

"I've heard people guesstimating about what has been the cost [of state capture] to the economy, counting it in billions. And I think that they are absolutely correct," he said, responding to a question during his appearance before the parliamentary inquiry into governance at state-owned companies.

Gigaba served as finance minister from March 31 last year -- following former president Jacob Zuma's controversial dismissal of the much-respected Pravin Gordhan -- up to a fortnight ago, when he was replaced by Nhlanhla Nene.

On Tuesday, Gigaba said there had been a "slowing down of the economy in 2017 as the allegations of state capture and corruption were prevalent".

However, from December last year, there had been an improvement in the exchange rate, and the appetite of investors for stock had increased, as it became obvious that steps were being taken to address the problem.

"As actions were taken... there was a positive sentiment.

"So there is a very high cost to corruption and allegations of state capture, and there is benefit to action being taken against those issues.

"That's why it's important that the country, not only for... international investor perception, but for our own good as a country, we should be seen to be taking drastic measures in this regard," he said.

EARLIER: Gupta contracts

Gigaba earlier testified that he could not comment on Gupta-related contracts at Eskom involving Trillian, Regiments and Tegeta because these all occurred outside of his tenure as public enterprises minister.

Gigaba served as public enterprises minister from November 2010 to May 2014.

"I have...been requested to inform the [public enterprises] committee of any Gupta-related contracts that were concluded during my tenure at DPE," Gigaba told MPs on Tuesday, testifying before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture.

The public enterprises portfolio committee is conducting the probe.

"This topic is challenging as the extent of Gupta-related corruption is only now surfacing. It is becoming increasingly apparent that even tenders that appeared lawful may have been tainted.

"The best I can do therefore, is to address the tenders that occurred at Eskom, Denel and Transnet, during my tenure, which have attracted significant media attention."

At Eskom, the "primary issues" Trillian, Regiments and Tegeta.

"All of these occurred outside of my tenure at DPE. I cannot therefore comment on them.

"The only interaction I had in relation to Tegeta, is when I ordered a forensic investigation in 2017 as the minister of finance," he said.

Gigaba said that during his time with public enterprises, he had "made decisions to ensure good governance".

He had also appointed people he viewed as competent.

"It has been disheartening and shocking for me to witness some of the appointments that I made years ago, and which were hailed publicly as positive appointments for Government, now being impugned. I take seriously the task of assisting this Committee in uncovering the extent of corruption that appears to have transpired.

"I am severely disappointed that those roles appear to have, in certain instances, been abused. I regret any role that I inadvertently played in the appointment of any director who subsequently failed to prioritise the interests of the relevant SOC, and more importantly, this country.

"At the time, I acted on the facts available to me, and made what I thought at the time were meritorious appointments.

"I, at all times during my DPE tenure, acted in the interests of the SOCs and of the public. At no time did I interfere with Board appointments, committee constitution, or tenders during my tenure," he said.

EARLIER: Brian Dames

Gigaba praised former Eskom CEO Brian Dames, saying his 2013 resignation had been a big loss to the power utility.

Gigaba said he had initially convinced Dames to stay on.

Dames was CEO when he (Gigaba) had arrived at the power utility.

"When he initially wanted to leave Eskom, I convinced him to stay on. I was not in favour of his exit from Eskom because of his capability, integrity and strong leadership, which brought stability and instilled confidence among Eskom's stakeholders."

Gigaba said he had told the board that Eskom could not afford to lose Dames in view of the massive build programme that was underway at the utility at the time, and because Eskom needed to raise capital for this programme.

"It was a difficult time for Eskom, and Mr Dames was needed to maintain stability during that period."

However, there were "tensions between Mr Dames and members of the board, which could have been disruptive".

Dames had eventually resigned in 2013, "when it became clear that the tensions between him and [then board chair Zola] Tsotsi" could not be resolved.

"When Mr Dames resigned... it was a loss to the company," Gigaba said.

Gigaba on Tuesday appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into corporate governance at Eskom, vowing to give testimony "based on my memory and confidential documents provided to me".

After taking an oath in which he promised to tell the truth, Gigaba told MPs his testimony would comprise four parts.

These included a response to former Eskom CEO Brian Dames' testimony before the inquiry last year; testimony on governance at Eskom; all board appointments at Eskom, Denel and Transnet; and, any alleged Gupta links to state-owned companies.

Gigaba served as public enterprises minister from November 2010 to May 2014.

During his tenure, the Eskom board was overhauled, all but two of its members replaced, and Zola Tsotsi appointed as chairman.

Gigaba was supposed to appear before the inquiry a week ago. However, he requested -- in a letter sent to inquiry chair Zukiswa Rantho -- he be granted a "reasonable extension" to allow him time to prepare.