STATE OF CAPTURE INQUIRY HEARS “OLD MAN LIKES YOU – WE ARE IN CONTROL OF EVERYTHING”
“Do you have a bag of money?
“I can deposit R600 000 right now”.
These were the words of Atul Gupta, the elder of the controversial Gupta brothers, in the presence of Duduzane Zuma, the son of former president Jacob Zuma, and millionaire Fana Hlongwane to former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas in his testimony before the State of Capture inquiry taking place in Parktown, Johannesburg on Friday.
Jonas, a key witness in the judicial commission of inquiry into the State of Capture inquiry under deputy justice Raymond Zondo, was testifying how he was promised R600-million by the Gupta’s if he agreed to “work” with them.
The inquiry was instituted by Jacob Zuma after recommendations by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela following complaints by Jonas and another ANC MP Vytjie Mentor of how they were offered ministerial posts by the Guptas.
Duduzane Zuma is a business partner with the Guptas in their company called Oakbay.
Hlongwane is a former advisor to the late Joe Modise who was the first Minister of Defence in the new dispensation post 1994.
He is said to have benefitted enormously from the controversial Arms Deal where he was one of the principal negotiators.
The State of Capture inquiry, among others, seeks to establish whether the relationship between the former president and the Gupta family had evolved into “state capture” underpinned by the Gupta family having power to influence the appointment of cabinet ministers and directors in boards of SOEs and leveraging those relationships to get preferential treatment in state contracts.
The inquiry kicked off on Monday and Jonas is the second witness to take the stand after Treasury’s chief procurement officer Willie Ndleleni Mathebula who took the stand on Monday.
The former deputy minister of finance Jonas detailed how he was offered millions if he agreed to become Minister of Finance to replace then incumbent Nhlanhla Nene by the Guptas at their Saxonwold complex when he testified before the State of Capture inquiry Friday.
According to Jonas, it all started with several phone calls and text messages from Duduzane Zuma requesting a meeting between the two.
This later culminated in a meeting between the two at the Park Hyatt hotel in Rosebank on October 23, 2015.
A ride in a two-door Mercedes-Benz landed the two at the Gupta’s complex in Saxonwold where Hlongwane was present seated in the lounge.
After a few moments enter Atul Gupta, who spoke highly of Jonas and even told him “how much the old man likes him”.
The old man referred to in this case is former president Jacob Zuma.
Led by evidence leader Advocate Molefe, Jonas testified that though he had never met Atul who he recognized from newspaper photos, told him that they were all aware of his activities and that they had conducted some intelligence on him and that they were in control of Hawks, National Intelligence etc.
Jonas testified that Atul further told him:” The old man wants to make you Minister of Finance…You have to be (minister) because we want that and you have to work with us.. you will be very rich.. the offer is safe”
Jonas further testified that Atul then pointed out at Duduzane and said they had made him rich and had even bought him a house in Dubai.
He said he became emotional and when he said he did not want to become a minister he was told by Atul: “Do you know whom you dealing with?”
Jonas said it looked as though Atul was on the verge of punching him and warned him that their meeting never happened and threatened that dare he tell anyone about it they will destroy his political career.
He said Atul told him: “We are in control of the Hawks, Intelligence etc, and the old man will do anything we tell him,”
The inquiry heard that Atul boasted they had MPs they were working with which included the likes of Lyn Brown (former Minister of Energy) and Brian Molefe, the former Eskom CEO.
Asked if Duduzane and Hlongwane had said anything during that meeting, Jonas said they were mum and it was like Atul was talking “like a radio”.
Jonas told judge Zondo that when he went to the Hawks to report the matter, he had refused to sign a draft statement by Hawk’s Major-General Zinhle Mnonopi who had told him in the presence of his lawyer that “there is no case here”.
There were mixed reactions to Jonas’ testimony with some saying he needs to be well prepared when it comes to his time of being grilled about his testimony.
Some even feared for his life.
Interestingly, it was two months after the Gupta meeting removed that Nhlanhla Nene was removed by President Zuma on December 09, 2015 and replaced with Des Van Rooyen who after a weekend was transferred to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The same post Jones was allegedly offered to him by the Gupta family.
Another ANC MP Vytjie Mentor was claims she was offered the post of Minister for Public Enterprises in exchange for cancelling the South African Airways (SAA) route to India and that President Zuma was at the Gupta residence when the offer was made will be the next to testify after Jonas.
Now that the inquiry is in full swing, South Africa has a chance and awaits with bated breath to know once and for all if president Zuma had mortgaged the running of the country to the Guptas.
The inquiry continues…..