“Improbable”, “a fabrication” and should be rejected.
This is what the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture has found regarding former president Jacob Zuma’s evidence before it that he did not insist on the appointment of Siyabonga Gama as Transnet group CEO ahead of Sipho Maseko back in 2009.
This is contained in part 2 of the state capture commission report that was released by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday after it was submitted to him by commission chairperson acting chief justice Raymond Zondo.
The Zondo commission paints a grim picture of how Zuma, aided by ministers loyal to him, set out to capture Transnet, which began with his insistence on the appointment of Gama ahead of Maseko even though the former had been found to be unsuitable for the job while Maseko was the most preferred by the Transnet board.
One of the reasons Gama was found unsuitable for the job at the time was because he had been facing a corruption investigation stemming from his role in the awarding of a security tender to a company linked to a former cabinet minister when he was CEO of Transnet Freight Rail.
The Zondo commission report provides details of a protracted battle involving emails and physical meetings between Zuma and Barbara Hogan, who was public enterprises minister at the time.
The report states that Zuma, on multiple occasions, resisted the appointment of Maseko as he preferred Gama even though his candidacy for the position was rejected by the Transnet board.
“The description of Mr Gama as ‘the preferred internal candidate’ begs the question of whose preferred candidate he was? It seems probable that this description meant that Mr Gama was President Zuma’s preferred candidate. That is the most logical meaning of that phrase in the second sentence. It thus corroborates Ms Hogan’s version that President Zuma wanted Mr Gama to be appointed as the GCEO of Transnet. It is inconsistent with Mr Zuma’s version that he had no preferred candidate and that he did not tell Ms Hogan that he wanted Mr Gama for that position and nobody else,” Zondo found in his report.
“President Zuma’s refusal to appoint Mr Maseko as GCEO of Transnet and his insistence on appointing Mr Gama — even as Mr Gama was facing investigations into allegations of serious acts of misconduct, including allegations of misconduct relating to tenders — reflects the first steps taken by President Zuma towards the capture of Transnet by the Guptas with President Zuma’s assistance.”