Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan (Cornel van Heerden, Netwerk24)
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Barbara Hogan’s testimony on Monday at the Zondo commission skewered former president Jacob Zuma, put the ANC firmly at the centre of the state capture project (again) and helped further outline the anatomy of corruption.
The former minister of public enterprises delivered a clear analysis of her period at the helm of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and explained in minute detail what her role as minister entailed, the position of companies like Eskom and Transnet in the country’s economic architecture and the role of the president as head of the national executive.
But Hogan, who comes from deep inside the bowels of the ANC and, alongside her departed husband, Ahmed Kathrada, is considered one of the ANC’s finest, delivered a stinging rebuke of the governing party, clearly explaining how the ANC blew up the line between party and state.
And she fingered Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte, Jeff Radebe, Malusi Gigaba and Siphiwe Nyanda as some whose actions contributed to the maiming of SOEs.
It was here evidence around her interaction with Zuma, the role of the ANC in forcing appointments at parastatals and the campaign to ensure the installation of Siyabonga Gama at Transnet that again illustrated how deep the rot in government and the governing party is.
Hogan, just like Gordhan in his sworn statement delivered to the commission, explained how Zuma interfered in proper process and procedure when she told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo about her “shock” when she realised that Zuma wanted no one else as CEO of Transnet but Gama.
The problem however was that Gama was being investigated because of suspected procurement irregularities in connection with new locomotives.
Twice Hogan explained to Zuma why Gama was not the right person for the position and twice he made it clear that Gama is the only one that he or the ANC would accept, even though the Transnet board had identified Sipho Maseko as the outstanding candidate for the position. Zuma didn’t ask about Maseko or his credentials or why he was the board’s preferred choice; it was all about Gama.
“I was extremely shocked,” Hogan said when Zuma ordered her not to appoint anyone until the investigation and disciplinary proceedings against Gama had been concluded.
The president, she added, “thwarted” attempts to make senior appointments at SOEs.
She told Zondo how chaotic the president’s office was, how she battled to get information and memoranda to him and how meetings with him were often arranged with his housekeeper. Where Kgalema Motlanthe – when he was caretake president – always had aides take minutes during meetings, with Zuma it was all on the fly.
The role of the ANC, who party operative and spin doctor Zizi Kodwa has insisted “is not on trail”, also came under the scrutiny of Hogan, who questioned the role of the party’s so-called “deployment committee”. She explained that this secretive and small body is responsible or the most important and sensitive appointments in the state and government and questioned whether or not it is necessary or legal.
“People are appointed and it is uncertain on what grounds,” she said before adding the meddling by the ANC’s national working committee in these appointments is “an abuse of power” and an effort to “usurp” her executive authority.
And this from someone who has held two Cabinet positions and has been a member of the party’s national executive committee for years. This is a senior ANC leader calling out the ANC for abusing its position, a senior ANC member calling out cadre deployment as the root of evil.
During the Gama tug-of-war Hogan attempted to convince Mantashe, then secretary general, that the ANC’s choice was the wrong one. He didn’t want to hear any of it: Gama it must be, she was told.
And when she wouldn’t budge her colleagues Nyanda and Radebe attacked her in public, playing the non-existent race card. Never mind that Maseko was black and qualified. But he wasn’t a party man, she said, and was disqualified.
Gama was fired in middle 2010 and Hogan shortly after. In 2011 Gigaba, who replaced Hogan as minister of public enterprises, appointed a new board who in turn reappointed Gama. The Transnet free-for-all had begun.
The ANC under Zuma – and his deputy president since 2012, Cyril Ramaphosa, and Mantashe and others – managed the affairs of state like a mafia ring, a protection racket and a spaza shop.
And it was the rent-seekers and the Guptas who benefitted. By design.
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