Sparks fly as Gordhan and other MPs quiz Molefe and Brown
It's dodge and deny as Eskom probe raises tension
While some were dropping truth bombs at this week's parliamentary inquiry into state capture at Eskom, others resorted to "denial, denial, denial".
MPs packed nearly 30 hours of grilling into just two days. And in those two days, allegations tumbled forth that would make it impossible for President Jacob Zuma to deny the reality of state capture.
At the centre of the most shocking claims stood uBaba himself, whom former board chairman Zola Tsotsi painted as some sort of Godfather figure who had to be appeased.Tsotsi spoke of how Tony Gupta would tell him that "uBaba" would not be pleased if he failed to help them, and accused him of aiding "uBaba's enemies" when he resisted their demands.
Tsotsi's description of a meeting at Zuma's home, at the initiative of then SAA board chairwoman Dudu Myeni, created a sense of déjà vu - Zuma appeared in the room as if out of nowhere, just as he did in an account by Vytjie Mentor of her meeting with No1.
Testifying at the hearing was more gruelling for some than for others as the hours wore on, tiredness set in and tempers flared.
On Tuesday, former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe appeared. Throughout his seven hours of testimony, he had the demeanour and body language of someone who could not care less.
He read out a 20-page statement and then fielded questions about his pension, his relationship with the Guptas, his phone calls as detailed in Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report, and why he went to Eskom in the first place.
He was often cocky, responding, "I can google it" and smiling impishly as he searched for his phone when EFF MP Floyd Shivambu asked him for his definition of retirement. He was sometimes rude, accusing MPs of "manufacturing facts".But he started to lose his cool when former finance minister Pravin Gordhan had his turn, somewhere between midnight and 1am.
Gordhan first pointed out incorrect dates in Molefe's submission before asking: "Who approached you to become a member of parliament?"
"The North West province," Molefe responded.
"A province can't come and walk to you and talk to you," Gordhan snapped.
And it was this approach that had the public glued to their screens on Wednesday night when Gordhan questioned Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown in another marathon, late-night session.
'NOT MY FAULT'
Brown's statement and testimony consisted mainly of denying all the accusations against her and blaming Eskom officials for keeping her in the dark or lying to her.
This was the exact strategy Eskom board spokesman Khulani Qoma said the minister used in dealing with accusations against her when he testified last week.
Some on social media seemed disappointed when it came time for Gordhan to question Brown and he was nowhere to be found. It turned out he had merely popped out to the loo.
When he returned, it was not long before he was trending on social media.
Where evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara was clinical and methodical in his questioning, Gordhan was ruthless.
It was clear as the two former cabinet colleagues faced off that resentment lingered about the way Gordhan had been treated. Brown raised her voice and the pair constantly interrupted one another, to the point that inquiry chair Zukiswa Rantho had to intervene.