Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan told the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture on Monday that former president Jacob Zuma wanted Siyabonga Gama as the Group CEO of Transnet, despite him facing allegations of misconduct.
"It actually shocked me," Hogan told inquiry chairperson Deputy Justice Raymond Zondo.
"He then said to me: 'You may not appoint anyone to the board,' because the board also had to have changes, 'until Mr Gama's disciplinary was over'," Hogan said.
Hogan also said that Zuma and some Cabinet colleagues had "thwarted" her attempts to get Cabinet approval for board appointments.
"Finally, the inexcusable interference with my responsibilities as a minister by president Zuma eroded my executive authority, and I refer in particular to Eskom in that regard."
Hogan also testified that the SOEs were left vulnerable when positions were filled by people acting in that capacity.
She said Transnet had an acting CEO and CFO by the time she assumed office.
Hogan said she had recommended Sipho Maseko to Zuma, because he had emerged as the leading candidate. However, the former president insisted on Gama for the Transnet CEO position.
Maseko is the current Telkom CEO.
She said Zuma had never raised concerns or any reasons why Maseko should not be appointed. She also added that she had found out a month or two later that the ANC supported Gama as a candidate for the job.
Gama was dismissed in October because of the board's lack of "trust and confidence" in him.
During the lunch adjournment, Transnet board chairperson Popo Molefe told News24 that Gama "is not coming back, regardless of the outcome of the court - he is out".
"The court can talk about whether the settlement we give to him of six months is fair or not. The court can't say to us: 'Keep in office the CEO that you can't work with who is not interested in the company,'" Molefe said.
Fin24 previously reported that Gama had challenged his termination and had said that Transnet had flouted fair processes by removing him without a disciplinary hearing.
But Molefe told News24 that the board was within its rights to dismiss Gama, who had failed to make representations as to why he should not be dismissed.
Scandals attributed to Gama include the loss of R151m during the procurement locomotive trains for the entity.
Meanwhile, despite the commission's legal team issuing notices to Zuma and other implicated persons two weeks prior Hogan's testimony, no one has applied to cross-examine the former public enterprises minister.