Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has rubbished former president Jacob Zuma’s testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.
Zuma told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that he had never interacted with Mentor.
Mentor, in summary, had told the commission that she had been offered a ministerial position by one of the Guptas, an offer which Zuma as president at the time was allegedly aware of and had approved.
“I had no interaction with this witness, nothing,” Zuma told the commission.
But Mentor said it was impossible for the former president to claim he had no interaction with her when they closely worked together for four years. She claimed he was the one who introduced her to the ANC parliamentary caucus as its new chair.
She said: “I chaired the ANC Parliamentary Caucus for four years. Mr Zuma attended most, if not all of these meetings sitting close to me at a 90° angle most of the time, except when he was abroad. I would usually make opening remarks at the beginning of Caucus, Mr Zuma would make closing remarks without fail at these caucus meetings.
“We sat together monthly or bi-monthly at an ANC Political Committee meeting, that for four years also. Mr Zuma is [one of] the very top six members of the NEC that was sent to inform me that I have been appointed by the leadership of the ANC to become the chair of the ANC caucus. He is the one that introduced me to the ANC caucus as it’s new chair. Why would he not have had any recollection of me in March 2015?”
The former president, however, said Mentor was “very much mistaken” about him introducing her to the caucus as it was the chief whip’s job, adding that he remembered her.
“At the time, I did not remember her. That’s when I said, ‘No. I don’t know this person’. I am saying she is exaggerating. It is not true that she was sitting next to me always and that I introduced her to the caucus,” said Zuma.
Zuma told the commission that it could have not been possible for him to sit next to Mentor in parliament because of the sitting arrangement which has the deputy sitting next to the president, and the speaker after the deputy.
He said depending on availability, the president would attend the ANC’s parliament caucus meetings as an ordinary member of the party.
Mentor responded: “Zuma now recalls who I am. He even says he knows me! But he has flatly denied recalling anything that has been put to him regarding my evidence.”
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde, Additional reporting by Makhosandile Zulu)