Former adviser to the late minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane has told the commission of inquiry into state capture that the removal of former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Themba Maseko was “an instruction”.
“I heard about this a week after the removal of Themba (Maseko). I asked minister Chabane why he did it and he said he was instructed and I shrugged and said: ‘Oh okay’. I never followed up as to by whom and why,” Ronald Shingange said on Tuesday at the commission’s hearings in Parktown, Johannesburg.
“My understanding is that there is only one person who could instruct him and that was the president,” he added.
Shingange added that the removal of Maseko in 2010 happened after a new administration took over, therefore he did not find it strange for director generals to be moved from one department to another.
“It was the year of the new administration, where changes happened – so I did not bother to ask why. If he was dismissed then I would have asked questions, but he was being moved from one department to another,” he explained.
Former president Jacob Zuma previously told the commission that he could not recall giving an instruction that Maseko be fired for allegedly failing to cooperate with the Guptas with respect to GCIS’ R600m advertising budget.
Maseko told the commission in his testimony before Zondo in 2018 the Guptas demanded that the R600m GCIS media budget be spent on their newspaper, The New Age.
Shingange said he received multiple calls following the former president’s testimony from people asking him if what Zuma had said was possible.
“I said it was impossible, as there is only one person who has the power to remove a DG [director general].
“People also asked me if it is possible for Chabane to remove a DG without the knowledge of a president. They called me because I was his adviser and people assumed we were close,” he explained.
Shingange further told the commission that he saw no sign of tension between Maseko and Chabane prior to Maseko’s removal.
Former chief director in the Presidency Brent Simons, who continued with his testimony on Tuesday, had previously accused the former president of not being truthful when he testified that he had not instructed the late minister to fire Maseko.
Simons told Zondo that it was “totally contradictory to the character of the minister [Chabane]” to have used the president’s name when he fired Maseko, as Zuma had alleged.
The inquiry continues.