Zondo commission: Mbalula 'ready 24/7' to testify if called upon after Zuma claims

Fikile Mbalula. (Screengrab)
Fikile Mbalula. (Screengrab)

Just over a week after former president Jacob Zuma laid out a decades-spanning conspiracy theory in his opening statement to the state capture commission of inquiry, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, whose name appeared in the statement, reiterated that he will appear before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo if called upon to do so.

Zuma, in his opening statement, said: "Some people I know for a fact might know that I know things about them and therefore they are not going to like me. But I've behaved for decades, I've not played around with intelligence information.

"I've lived with people who don't know I know about them because that was not what I was trained for - to use intelligence wrongly or callously. But these people have provoked me, and other people. Not only that, some of the people have said things.

"For an example, one day comrade [Fikile] Mbalula attended an activity at the farm or home of Mr [Johann] Rupert and when Rupert saw him, he said, Minister Mbalula - when that happened he was the minister of sports - if Zuma takes out, removes Pravin Gordhan we would shut down the economy of this country. You must go and tell him. And indeed Mbalula came to tell me. I said, but what does he have to do with us?"

The claim seems to mirror those made in Gayton McKenzie's book, Kill Zuma - by any means necessary, an excerpt of which can be seen here.  

According to Forbes, Rupert, the chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont and CEO of Remgro, has a real-time net worth of $6.6bn (R91.67bn) making him one of the richest, and most influential men in South Africa.

Remgro Limited is an investment holding company with diversified interests in a range of South African companies and industries.

Asked on Wednesday to comment on the veracity of the allegations made by the former president regarding the purported statement by Rupert, Mbalula said: "I think we are not at the Zondo commission so ... should I be required to give a statement or answer that question before the commission, I'm ready to do that. 

"What I'm not going to do is to undermine the commission and run a parallel commentary. People go to the commission and say all sorts of things. And I've learnt that if you are implicated or people raise your name it's not advisable to speak on Twitter or anywhere else. It is to speak at that platform."

The minister has, without getting into the merits, acknowledged the former president's claims telling a Twitter user to wait for him to write his tell-all book.

Mbalula held the party line saying, "...my party, the ANC, has directed all of us, should we be required to assist in any other way by the commission we should be ready to do that. 

"So I've heard all of those news and I was in London at the IMO [International Maritime Organization] meeting so when the former president made those comments at the commission ... all I'm doing is to observe what he said."

Mbalula is no stranger to proceedings at the commission having testified before it in March this year. Before appearing, he said he wanted to amplify the truth

On Wednesday, he reiterated his fearless state of readiness saying, "in terms of the commission, I've never been a person who's not ready to appear before a commission if I'm required to do so, so I will be if I'm required to do so. So there's no issue.

"So to talk in parallel will not help that particular process because people say things for all sorts of reasons and so on. So I'd rather speak under oath rather than in the streets and be held accountable if needs be. So I've got no challenges to explain anything that involves me at the state capture commission.

"Ever ready 24/7," he said.

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