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Gordhan to finally appear before Zondo commission

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is expected to deliver his long-awaited testimony before the commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.

Gordhan is expected to detail how some of his own Cabinet colleagues allegedly resisted — and attacked — treasury for looking into suspected corruption. According to Gordhan, some government officials were trying to halt crucial legislation that would give the government more power to scrutinise the banking affairs of politicians and politically connected business people.

Gordhan was set to testify over a month ago, but his appearance before the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — was postponed after he failed to submit his full statement to the commission’s legal team on time.

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

It was announced last week that his testimony had been postponed once again after it emerged that Zondo had granted Gordhan the postponement the previous Friday.

Gordhan’s scheduled appearance garnered widespread attention, especially after his statement to the commission was leaked and published in the media. Gordhan decried the circulation of his statement and Zondo reprimanded the media for this.

READ MORE: Zondo reprimands media for leaked submissions

The week before Gordhan was expected to give his statement, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said she would be investigating Gordhan regarding allegations that he — in his capacity as South African Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner — unfairly approved former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement package and his re-employment in 2010.

But Mkhwebane’s investigation has come under intense scrutiny after her office subpoenaed Gordhan to meet with her at the same time he was due to appear at the Zondo commission.

Lawyers for the minister, in a statement last Saturday, said that Mkhwebane was involved in a preliminary investigation into allegations that were similar to those that Gordhan faced in 2016 when he was the subject of a criminal investigation by the Hawks. The charges against Gordhan were withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority on October 31 2016.

Gordhan met with Mkhwebane last Wednesday. His lawyer, Tebogo Malatji, told Radio 702 the meeting went well.

READ MORE: Public protector denies foul play in Gordhan investigation

Representatives from the Economic Freedom Fighters are expected to protest outside of the commission on Monday. The party has been vocal in its criticism of Gordhan for him having allegedly lied about dealings with the controversial Gupta family and their associates — details of which are expected to emerge during his testimony.

Though Gordhan’s testimony has dominated public attention, the commission made headlines after former MP Vytjie Mentor sent a letter to Zondo retracting an element of her testimony.

Mentor faced the commission in its second week.

She testified to having seen controversial businessman Fana Hlongwane on a flight to China, via Dubai, in 2010. Mentor suggested that Hlongwane was accompanying former president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, on the flight. In her letter to Zondo, she reportedly said that the man she had seen was not in fact Hlongwane.

The flight in question marked the first time Mentor allegedly met Rajesh Gupta.

During her testimony, Mentor pointed out that she had previously misidentified Hlongwane as former Gauteng Health MEC Brian Hlongwa in her book, No Holy Cows. 

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.

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