A legal representative for Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, on Wednesday asked for his cross-examination by former Sars boss Tom Moyane before the commission of inquiry into state capture to be postponed, which appeared to irritate the inquiry’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Moyane’s counsel was in November 2019 granted leave to cross-examine Gordhan.
Gordhan’s legal representative from the attorney general’s office, Nonhlanhla Mbatha, asked for the matter to be moved to August 31 or any other date suitable to both parties. She cited Cabinet commitments for his request for postponement.
Advocate Dali Mpofu, who has appeared on behalf on Moyane before the commission previously, was not at the hearing on Wednesday. He was on appearing on behalf of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane in an unrelated matter.
Zondo was unhappy with the development, asking Mbatha what could be more important than appearing before the commission, given that that the process has already been marred by several delays and is approaching the end of its sitting.
He took particular issue with Mbatha’s explanation on behalf of Gordhan that he had to attend to the Cabinet commitment, saying there was “no explanation why those commitments are more important than appearing before this commission”.
“Mere Cabinet appointments can’t be more important than appearing before this commission, there would need to be something more than just mere Cabinet commitments. This Commission has got a very limited time to finish its work, and Cabinet commitments are work like everybody’s work commitments.
“If everybody is going to say I have work commitments and I can’t appear before the commission on this day, then we are not going to finish this commission,” he said.
“Maybe our solution is to make sure that summons are issued against anyone who must appear before this commission because there are just too many instances where people say they can’t appear,” said Zondo.
The inquiry has been investigating allegations of state capture, corruption and fraud at state entities since August 2018. Gordhan’s legal representative insisted that he was willing to take part in the commission’s work.
Zondo said he was “not happy” with the suggestion of postponing the matter to 31 August, saying he would have to fix another date for the cross-examination.
Moyane, who was Sars commissioner from September 2014 until his dismissal in November 2018, had applied to the commission to cross-examine Gordhan after the latter implicated him in his testimony.
In November 2019 Zondo granted Moyane leave to cross-examine Gordhan on condition that his questioning would be limited the criminal charges laid against Gordhan relating to the early pension payout of former Sars deputy commission Ivan Pillay, and allegations that Moyane was involved in state capture.
Zondo previously denied Moyane leave to cross-examine the public enterprises minister in April 2019, citing that the five themes presented by Moyane in his application failed to show how Gordhan had implicated him through his statement in allegations of state capture, and that he had failed to show why these themes would serve in the best interests of the work of the commission.