Then President Jacob Zuma with Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda at Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, November 10, 2009, where he was presented with the new presidential stamp of the South African Post Office. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Alet Pretorius)
On Thursday afternoon, General Siphiwe Nyanda went to the witness stand to confirm that former President Jacob Zuma and the highest decision-making body of the CNA, the National Executive Committee, reportedly turned a blind eye to a condemnatory revelation by Fikile Mbalula that the Guptas were the first. to inform him of his appointment to the Cabinet in 2010.
Fikile Mbalula has publicly upheld former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's claims that he made this shocking revelation at an NEC meeting in 2011 – but no action was taken, allowing Gupta's rot to rot for another six years.
Manuel testified early on Thursday about the meeting and how Mbalula allegedly cried when he revealed it to fellow members of the ANC.
General Siphiwe Nyanda, a former communications minister who was dismissed by Zuma in October 2010 in the same ministerial reform that saw the appointment of Mbalula, took the post of witnesses in the State Capture Commission on Thursday afternoon.
Nyanda was replaced by Roy Padayachie, a well-known acolyte of Gupta, for reasons he could never define.
Although unable to recall if Mbalula had wept when he shared this disturbing development with his teammates at the 2011 NEC meeting, Nyanda confirmed Manuel's testimony about the revelation of Mbalula.
Nyanda said the revelation confirmed what had been "whispers" of a Gupta hand in government appointments.
"What was remarkable was that Mbalula had made this revelation. He was annoyed with this information coming from people who had no business knowing that. He had been the deputy police minister until then.
He said he believed that Mbalula's revelation was genuine and an attempt to draw the ANC's attention to the party dealing with it.
However, this, in fact, a "direct indictment" against Zuma, did not trigger any action from anybody, either the NEC or officials in the ANC Top Six structure at the time.
Nyanda said that Mbalula's revelation was extremely serious, adding that the burden was on Zuma to respond.
"The person who took responsibility for the appointments of the Cabinet is the president. "
This was a very serious statement made by a member of the CNE and Cabinet minister that Zuma had been "abandoned" and allegedly reported to the Guptas before Mbalula was informed, or else he had given them the role of informing him .
He told the commission he hoped Zuma would respond to such a "direct" charge.
Asked if, in addition to the silence of Zuma and Top Six officials, anyone else in the room had picked him up for discussion, Nyanda said he could not remember.
However, he said he doubted if anyone, at that time, would have been brave enough to get involved in the issue in this forum, chaired by Zuma.
So far, Nyanda said, there were only rumors about Zuma's ties to the Guptas and that many (government) decisions were being made at his home in Saxonwold.
During all his years in government, first as head of the South African Defense Force and later as Cabinet minister, no one ever came to him with a dishonest request, Nyanda testified.
He confirmed that Zuma's son, Duduzane, had once arrived at his office with the Guptas on time to "introduce" him to their companies.
"Later they tried to see me again, sent emissaries to request a meeting.
Nyanda said no meeting happened when they refused to meet in his office.
He also provided insight to the commission's involvement with several memoranda forwarded to the ANC in 2016 by ANC supporters, military veterans and former government general officials, to bring the damaging effects of the Zuma presidency and the role of the Guptas to attention of Casa Luthuli employees.
Part of that mission included a meeting with Zuma in which he was asked to resign as leader of the ruling party.
Zuma, Nyanda testified, reminded them that he was not going anywhere, that he had been elected president of the ANC by the branches.
The Commission resumed on Friday with the testimony of Eskom's treasurer, Andre Frank Pillay. DM
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