/ 11 November 2018

#StateCaptureInquiry: Barbara Hogan set to deliver ‘explosive’ testimony

Jacob Zuma replaced then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan with Malusi Gigaba in October 2010.
Jacob Zuma replaced then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan with Malusi Gigaba in October 2010. (Alet Pretorius/Beeld)

After a month-long hiatus, the commission of inquiry into state capture is set to resume on Monday, with former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan expected to take the stand.

Hogan was initially set to give her evidence before the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — in October, but the commission’s legal team made a last-minute application to have her testimony postponed.

The legal team’s advocate Thandi Norman — who presented the application — said the team had not received Hogan’s witness statement in time for them to properly review it prior to her testimony.

She is set to reveal how former president Jacob Zuma, shortly after his election in 2009, began meddling in the appointment of board members and executives in state-owned enterprises which ultimately led to her removal from his Cabinet.

Hogan’s name was first brought up during former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor’s testimony before the commission in August.

In her statement, Mentor alleged that in 2010 she was invited to a clandestine meeting at the Gupta family’s home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. It is there Mentor alleges, she was offered the job of public enterprises minister by Gupta patriarch, Ajay.

READ MORE: #StateCaptureInquiry — What Vytjie saw

Hogan was the minister at the time.

According to Mentor, Gupta had offered her the position in exchange for cancelling the South African Airways (SAA) route to Mumbai, India. The cancellation of this route was allegedly set to benefit India-based Jet Airways and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.

Mentor first revealed the alleged Gupta bribe in a Facebook post in March 2016.

She posted at the time: “But they had previously asked me to become Minister of Public Enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them. I refused and so I was never made a Minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld [sic].”

Zuma replaced Hogan with Malusi Gigaba in October 2010. Gigaba has since fielded allegations of ties to the Gupta family — and of abetting their capture of the state — during his tenure at the helm of the public enterprises, treasury and home affairs ministries.

Hogan’s statement to the commission was leaked and widely referenced in media reports as early as last Monday. The statement submitted to the commission by the current Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was also leaked.

READ MORE: Zuma, Cabinet tried to halt Gordhan’s moves to stop illicit flow of funds

In a media statement released last Thursday, Zondo decried the dissemination and publication of witness statements sent to the commission well before the testimonies of the witnesses in question.

An investigation is to be conducted to establish the source of the leaks, Zondo said — emphasising that the dissemination and publication of the documents are in contravention of the commission’s regulations.

Zondo’s plea to the media comes after Gordhan complained that his affidavit had been “inexplicably leaked to the media”. Gordhan is set to testify before the commission.

READ MORE: Zondo reprimands media for leaked submissions

The Mail & Guardian published two articles directly referencing the submissions in last Friday’s newspaper.

In one M&G report based on the leaked submissions, Hogan is set to detail her 17 months at the helm of the public enterprises’ ministry, during which she says Zuma went as far as circumventing Cabinet processes in the appointment and dismissals of the chief executives of Transnet and Eskom.

READ MORE: Gama lobby guns for Maria Ramos

She will also reveal to the commission how she and former SAA board chairperson Cheryl Carolus resisted efforts by the chief executive of Jet Airways Naresh Goyal to convince them that SAA withdraws from its lucrative Mumbai route — even door-stopping them at a fashion show in India during Zuma’s state visit there, the report says.

After Hogan was removed from the cabinet in October 2010, SAA dropped the route.