Former Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula appeared before the Zondo Commission to give his testimony into State Capture, after which he spoke to media.
Former Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is currently the African National Congress’ (ANC) elections head, appeared before the Zondo Commission into State Capture last week.
During his testimonial, Mbalula detailed the infamous 2011 call that he received from Ajay Gupta, congratulating him on being minister even before he was formally appointed as a cabinet minister. He says after he received the call, he raised this issue with the National Executive Committee (NEC), saying that having the Guptas interfere in government matters would land the ruling party in trouble.
“I took that matter to the NEC to share part of my experience and to say to the NEC that this thing of the Guptas and them interfering and calling ministers is a big problem, one day this thing will land us in a big crisis,” he said.
Mbalula went on to tell the commission that he felt as though members of the ANC did not act accordingly in dealing with the Gupta matter.
“It was an act of cowardice that there’s nobody who stood [up] to raise the issue of the Guptas and its political ramifications for the ANC and the country in the meeting of the National Executive Committee. It was simply raised in corridors and so on, and nobody raised it in the meeting of the National Executive Committee.
“I understood because when you are a cabinet minister, you owe your plate and everything to the president. You can’t stand up in a meeting against the president because you can be reshuffled at night,” he continued.
During this period, Mbalula was questioned relentlessly by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela about his communications with the Guptas, but Mbalula never revealed that he had received that fateful phone call from Ajay Gupta in 2011. He says that, back then, he did not think the phone call was of any importance.
“I didn’t think it was important … some of the things that were raised in the discourse is that I was offered a position and was appointed by them [the Guptas] which I vehemently denied and still today [I deny]. I was not appointed by them … it was a call for a congratulations, which took me aback.” he said.
On Wednesday, 27 March 2019, former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Mwanele Manyi tweeted Mbalula, accusing him of committing perjury. Mbalula responded with a rather vulgar tweet, where he denied committing perjury and called Manyi a dog.