Public spending, Mbalula and the Guptas: Five quotes from Trevor Manuel's testimony

01 March 2019 - 09:03 By Odwa Mjo
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel testifies at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Former finance minister Trevor Manuel testifies at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel appeared before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Thursday. He spoke about reckless government spending and Fikile Mbalula allegedly being informed by the Guptas of his appointment as minister of sports and recreation. 

The Public Finance Management Act 

“When we drafted the PFMA, there was a fundamental shift from the old norms. The focus was on outputs and responsibilities ... It requires people to act in the best interests of the public. That shift is fundamentally important,” he said.

Manuel told the commission that state capture was an endeavour to remove the controls enshrined in the PFMA.

PFMA and public spending 

“When there is reckless spending, almost inevitably, people who are dependent on public services, the poor, are denied access. In the context of state capture, it is actually an endeavour to remove those kind of controls.”

NEC meeting

Manuel described an ANC NEC meeting that took place in August 2011, which was centred on the influence of the Guptas.

“My recollection of that NEC was that there was a tense discussion about the influence of the Guptas. The ANC is a political movement and politics is very wide, with wide-ranging issues ...”

Mbalula’s appointment

Manuel alleged that during the meeting Mbalula revealed that members of the Gupta family told him he would be appointed as a cabinet minister. 

“My recollection is that when it came to the opportunity for Mbalula to speak in that meeting, he became very emotional. In the exchange of open letters among ourselves, I refer to his weeping ... He said he was called to Saxonwold to be told by the Guptas (of his promotion.”

On the Guptas

Ajay Gupta filed an application to cross-examine Manuel, which was denied. In the application he claimed that it was him who met Mbalula and not his brother, Atul, as Manuel said in his testimony. Ajay also denied that he had informed Mbalula about his ministerial appointment.

“I’d like him (Ajay) to be here; I’d like him to give up the hiding place in Dubai and be here,” Manuel said.