While presenting his evidence relating to his appointment as finance minister in December 2015, Des Van Rooyen told the Zondo Commission that he never saw his advisor at the National Treasury, Mohamed Bobat.
This comes after earlier on Tuesday, former national treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile accused Van Rooyen of employing two Gupta-linked advisors, Bobat and Ian Whitely, without having formalised contracts.
Fuzile said he “had to deal with the fact that the former minister had committed a serious violation by bringing Bobat and Whitely into the National Treasury and given them access to everything”.
“I did not exactly say that Mr Van Rooyen should not appoint Mr Bobat and Mr Whitely without contracts, but I did refer to him on how the rules are done,” he said.
Van Rooyen explained that he met Bobat in 2009 when he was mayor of the Merafong Municipality.
“I wanted to hit the ground running. So I prioritised appointing a chief of staff and special advisor and Mr Bobat was the best candidate for the position of Special Advisor,” he said.
The former minister, however, did note that he never checked Bobat’s CV to ensure that he was qualified for the position as his advisor.
“I know his profile, I had no reasons not to believe his qualifications,” he said.
On his appointment, Van Rooyen said he submitted his CV to the Presidency on 30 November 2015. He explained that he knew that he might be appointed as minister when he was called by the office of former president Jacob Zuma to set up a meeting in Gauteng while on holiday in December 2015.
“The President wanted to meet me between 7-9 December at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria while I was in Durban.I knew there were rumours about a reshuffle…I may be called to be assigned. I had my suspicions,” Van Rooyen said.
Asked on how he met Rajesh ‘Tony’ Gupta, Van Rooyen said that he was “fresh from conference” around October 2015 and Gupta came to his office at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
“Tony Gupta walked into my office and congratulated me for being elected treasurer-general of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Veterans Association (MKMVA). I understood that Tony wanted to engage in business with the MKMVA of the African National Congress (ANC).
“The work of the treasurer-general is to create relationships with businesses with sole attention to attend to budgetary requirements of the association,” he said.
Van Rooyen said he did not recall whether there was any interaction between his date of appointment and the day of the their first meeting.
The former minister further explained that it was permissible for him to remain the treasurer-general despite him being appointed as finance minister.
He added that the Guptas would provide sponsorship to the MKMVA’s golf day at end of 2016 and end of December 2017.
“They came in as one of the four main sponsors of that particular event in 2016 and they followed up with another sponsorship as one of the three main sponsors of the next golf event in 2017.
“We are looking at an amount of approximately R1.2 million that they contributed for those two events respectively,” he said.
Watch the proceedings below: