When Nhlanhla Nene was removed as finance minister in 2015, former National Treasury director general (DG) Lungisa Fuzile received a call and was told that he was going to get a "Gupta minister", Fuzile told the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday.
The former DG told inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that the night Nene was dismissed he received a call from ANC economic head Enoch Godongwana who said to him: "You are now going to get a Gupta minister who will arrive with his advisers."
Nene was removed from Cabinet on December 9, 2015 during a reshuffle and was replaced by Des van Rooyen, who remained in the post for only a weekend.
'The axe has fallen'
Nene previously testified that former president Jacob Zuma took about two to three minutes to inform him that he was removing him as finance minister.
During his testimony on Wednesday, Fuzile told the commission that when Nene was removed, Nene sent him a message saying: "The axe has fallen". He said he understood this to mean that Nene had been fired.
After hearing that Nene had been dismissed, he visited him at home. The first thing Nene told him was: "I don't have a job."
Fuzile also told the commission that Godongwana's comments about a Gupta minister and his advisers were similar to what former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas had told him about the controversial family. He explained that the Guptas told Jonas he would be given advisers.
Fuzile said Godongwana did not disclose who the advisers would be. He also did not follow up with Van Rooyen.
"Appointing a minister is a very serious job," Fuzile said. He added that being told that a "Gupta minister" was going to replace Nene did not make sense.
When he was told that he was going to get a Gupta minister, he started to borrow from the "connect the dots" phrase of his former boss, Pravin Gordhan. He said it immediately struck him that there was something in what Gordhan said.
Asked what he knew about the Gupta family at the time, Fuzile said there were stories about their proximity to Zuma.
Fuzile said when Jonas was offered the position of finance minister along with a "huge sum of money", the Guptas also requested that he remove four senior officials at Treasury, who would be replaced by candidates of their choice.
The four people were Fuzile, Ismail Mononiat (tax policy), Andrew Donaldson (public finance) and Kenneth Brown (procurement).
Fuzile is expected to continue testifying on Thursday.