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Former Transnet chair Mkhwanazi backtracks on Gigaba testimony at Zondo inquiry

Mafika Mkhwanazi previously denied that Minister Malusi Gigaba had a hand in reviewing former CEO Siyabonga Gama's dismissal, but this afternoon wanted to change his story.

A screenshot of former Transnet board chair Mafika Mkhwanazi at the state capture commission on Friday 16 October 2020. Picture: SABC Digital News/Youtube

JOHANNESBURG – Former Transnet board chair Mafika Mkhwanazi has been caught out by the state capture commission.

The inquiry said he denied in his affidavit that Minister Malusi Gigaba had a hand in reviewing former CEO Siyabonga Gama's dismissal.

But on Friday afternoon he wanted to submit another affidavit saying he did.

“Yes, I do indicate that there is a supplementary affidavit coming,” said Mkhwanazi.

Evidence leader advocate Anton Myburgh responded: “No, but Mr Mkhwanazi in your declaration you answered that question in the negative. You can’t get out of this by saying you're going to put up another affidavit.”

Mkhwanazi has had to admit more than once that he was less than accountable.

He said he never knew that junior officials who committed offences similar to Gama's were dismissed, yet Gama was reinstated.

The commission heard how a contract for R960 million ballooned to R1.8 billion and board approval for the escalation was applied for only afterwards.

Mkhwanazi argued that Gama was not granted an opportunity to apply for a deviation, but Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo told him that as a senior executive, Gama should have known that he had to apply for a deviation in advance.

And on Friday afternoon he tried to worm his way out of a conversation he had with Gigaba, which appears to be the reason that Gama was reinstated

“Is whether there was any member of Cabinet who played any role in the matter being settled?” asked Myburgh.

“If you put it that way, then definitely Mr Gigaba in my interaction with him at the end of October played a role that said can you review this matter, but not necessarily the actual settlement agreement,” said Mkhwanazi.

“But did you not put that in your declaration?” enquired Myburgh.

“There is supplementary affidavit coming,” responded Mkhwanazi, who testified remotely via video link.

NO LAUGHING MATTER

Earlier Zondo couldn't contain his laughter as Mkhwanazi nonchalantly admitted that ministers and MPs had companies that wanted business from state-owned entities.

Mkhwanazi has told the state capture commission that employees who looked after their interests had a direct line to those ministers.

He was responding to questions about how ministers and former President Jacob Zuma knew intimate details of what was happening at Transnet.

At the time CEO Gama was facing disciplinary action for not obtaining board approval to deviate from expenditures worth billions.

Zondo struggled on conceal his surprise.

“Chair, you have to understand that some of these ministers and members of Parliament have got companies that somehow I suspect have got an interest in what is happening in these state-owned companies. Which is why they then have an interest of tender opportunities, whether they exist or not,” said Mkhwanazi.

This led to laughter from Zondo, who said, “Well obviously Mr Mkhwanazi, you can see I’m laughing.”

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