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Charge ex-minister Faith Muthambi for dubious dealings with Guptas and Hlaudi Motsoeneng: Zondo

22 June 2022 - 23:00
Former communications minister Faith Muthambi. File photo.
Former communications minister Faith Muthambi. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Chief justice Raymond Zondo has referred former communications minister Faith Muthambi and former SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for possible prosecution.

According to Zondo there is enough evidence to criminally charge Muthambi with several charges under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act over her relationship with Gupta lieutenants and possibly enabling Motsoeneng to abuse his powers, leading to the diversion of public funds to Gupta-owned media house TNA Media.

Zondo recommended that Motsoeneng be investigated and prosecuted for possible contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) for their role in the business dealings between the public broadcaster and Gupta owned company TNA Media.

There is no reasonable explanation for communications of this nature between a minister and members of the Gupta group who control a television station subject to her regulatory jurisdiction
Chief justice Raymond Zondo, chair of the state capture commission

Zondo found that there was credible evidence that pointed to Muthambi having a relationship with the Guptas that enabled the controversial family access to confidential information related to her department of communications but also the state.

This relates to her constant communication with a known Gupta lieutenants Ashu Chawla who would then pass the info to the family via Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma.

One example was an e-mail Muthambi sent to Chawla on July 29 2014 notifying him of a cabinet meeting the next day, attaching confidential documents related to the broadcasting digital migration policy in the cabinet.

This constant communication with the Guptas on her duties as minister and her possibly enabling the abuse of power by Motsoeneng at the SABC should be referred to the NPA for possible prosecution, said Zondo.

“I agree communications described above amount to an abuse by Ms Muthambi of her office. There is no reasonable explanation for communications of this nature between a minister and members of the Gupta group who control a television station subject to her regulatory jurisdiction.”

TNA Media entered into deals with the SABC and other state organs through an event titled TNA Business Breakfast.

SABC carried the event live for free while state organs such as Transnet, Eskom and Telkom splurged millions sponsoring the event.

“It is most probable that Mr Motsoeneng’s gross abuse of power at the SABC, including diverting public resources vested in the SABC to benefit the Gupta’s rival media company, appear to have been sanction by both Ms Muthambi and [former] President Jacob Zuma,” Zondo said in the report.

“In my opinion,” Zondo said of Muthambi, “her said actions should be referred to the NPA if this has not yet been done. Her actions are in conflict with section 96 of the constitution as also in conflict with her office. There is also sufficient evidence on record to consider charges in terms of sections 3, 4, 7, 21, and 34 of [the] Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities [Act].”

These sections of the act describe the general act of corruption by individuals, while section 96 of the constitution relates to the conduct of cabinet ministers and deputy ministers.

SABC bosses Motsoeneng and former chief executive Lulama Mokhobo should be investigated for possible prosecution, added Zondo, for contravening several sections of the PFMA, which deals with the conduct of accounting officials, including taking all necessary steps to ensure collection of monies owed to the entity.

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