Former CEO of Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) Themba Maseko took the stand on Wednesday at the state capture inquiry chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Maseko testified that former director generals (DGs) at government departments, senior public servants and middle managers could testify at the inquiry about their experiences of alleged state capture and with the central figures of the allegations, the Gupta family.
The former GCIS head said a forum of DGs had drafted a memorandum calling for an inquiry into state capture by the Gupta family and that during the drafting of the said memorandum, a number of other DGs shared their experiences with the Gupta family and those implicated in state capture.
Maseko said, however, that some of these DGs had refrained from signing the memorandum or coming forward to testify out fear of losing their jobs or facing reprisals.
Zondo asked Maseko if some of these DGs would be willing to come forward to testify at the current inquiry, to which Maseko responded by saying that the change in the political climate in South Africa could “lead to a willingness to speak”.
As an example to justify the fears and concerns raised by the DGs that had not come forward, Maseko said some heads of intelligence agencies were removed from their positions at the time state capture allegations were revealed after they had reported that the Gupta family could become a security or intelligence risk for the country.
Former DG in President Thabo Mbeki’s office and ANC member of the national executive committee Reverend Frank Chikane, former national director of public prosecutions Vusi Pikoli and Maseko were among the DGs that drafted the memorandum, the former GCIS chief executive testified.
The memorandum was addressed to a number of ministers as well as heads and deputies of the country’s national executive, with the first addressee being then minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan, whose office, Maseko said, confirmed receiving the memorandum. Former minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s office also confirmed receipt of the memorandum as did former president Jacob Zuma’s office.
Maseko testified that the office of the country’s deputy president confirmed receiving the memorandum, however, he confused the holder of that position at the time, 2016, as being Kgalema Montlathe when at the time Cyril Ramaphosa held that office.
The memorandum, Maseko said, addressed how the Gupta family had allegedly unduly influenced procurement and key appointments at government departments and state-owned entities.
Maseko said a number of senior government officials had complained to the signatories of the memorandum about how procurement processes were being undermined at government departments and how their political principals had allegedly influenced this.
Maseko said the DGs that compiled the memorandum had called for a broader inquiry into state capture because the ANC process probing the allegations at the time would not get to the bottom of the allegations as those outside the party would not be obligated to testify in the internal party process.
The former GCIS head said he participated in the ANC process and had met with then ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe who after their meeting asked if Maseko was willing to put his testimony in writing, which he did and signed the statement which has been submitted at the Zondo Commission.
Maseko two years ago spoke out publicly about how then president Jacob Zuma arranged a meeting with him and the Guptas when he was GCIS boss and how the Gupta brothers allegedly put him under pressure to place government adverts in their newspaper – the now-defunct New Age.