Jacob Zuma lobbied for Lucky Montana's reinstatement, claims Popo Molefe

13 March 2020 - 17:14 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe told the state capture inquiry that former president Jacob Zuma said former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana should be reinstated because he was 'the best man for the job'.
Former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe told the state capture inquiry that former president Jacob Zuma said former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana should be reinstated because he was 'the best man for the job'.
Image: File

It was a "very long" eight hours on August 20 2015 at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house in Pretoria.

Inside one room were four men - former president Jacob Zuma, then minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe, former Prasa board chairperson Popo Molefe and Lucky Montana  - and one woman, former transport minister Dipuo Peters.

The meeting had been called under the impression it was an ANC meeting between "comrades", but a matter involving a state organ was the only agenda item.

This is apparently where Zuma told those in the meeting that Montana, who had left Prasa after his contract ended, was "the best man for the job" and should be reinstated.

This was part of Molefe's testimony at the state capture inquiry on Friday.

The meeting had been organised by Radebe on behalf of Zuma, said Molefe, but the understanding was that only four people would sit in, excluding Montana.

It was set to start at 3pm but started three hours later after Zuma did not arrive, without apology.

He had apparently been meeting Montana and businessman Roy Moodley in a different room, said Molefe.

When the meeting eventually started, after Molefe met Zuma in the passage on his way out having decided he was leaving because of the delay, Montana was brought in, much to the surprise of Molefe and Peters.

Molefe relived the early events of the meeting.

"So the president says, 'This young man [Montana] is very experienced. He is experienced and has the skills the country needs. In my view he should not be lost to the country and some solution must be found to allow him to continue plying his skills in this important organisation'.

"The solution the president was suggesting was that the decision the board had taken to release Mr Montana [a month before] be reviewed.

"My response to the president was that I cannot make a commitment in a private meeting on a matter decided upon by the board of control of Prasa, a state organ. I said to him, 'Mr Montana did not have a lifetime contract at Prasa and therefore, Mr President, I cannot agree with you but I can convene a board meeting where you can explain what is your problem'."

Molefe claimed Montana was then allowed to make a presentation which saw the meeting going on until 2am the following day.

To Molefe, he said, it appeared Zuma and Radebe had been privy and had discussed the presentation with Montana prior to the meeting.

But what was more "bizarre" for Molefe, he said, was why Montana was in the meeting in the first place, having not had "standing" as a public servant after being released on July 15.

Montana, for two days on Thursday and Friday during Molefe's testimony, was in the public gallery at the commission hearings venue.

He went through an emotional roller coaster - one moment giggling and the next appearing stone-faced. Whether his gestures were that of a concerned man or one who is unfazed remains to be seen.


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