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Opinio

Humiliating climax to a career that should have ended months ago as Gigaba's political and private pasts catch up with him

04 November 2018 - 00:00 By ranjeni munusamy

Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan says in her affidavit to the Zondo commission investigating state capture that she was called to a meeting on October 31 2010 with then president Jacob Zuma and told the ANC national executive committee had decided to redeploy her as ambassador to Finland.
Gwede Mantashe, who was then ANC secretary-general, was present at this meeting. "I declined the redeployment and informed them that I would be resigning as a member of parliament," Hogan states.
"I immediately packed up my office and left the following day, requesting a handover meeting with the incoming minister, which is the norm in government. Minister [Malusi] Gigaba declined my request," she said.
One wonders what was Gigaba's thinking at the time.
This was a pivotal moment in his career, promoted from deputy minister of home affairs to minister of public enterprises. Despite the complexity of the portfolio, he was so cocksure that he did not think he needed a briefing about what was going in the department.
It is possible that he had already been given instructions about what he had to do as minister and therefore did not deem it necessary to meet his predecessor.
Gigaba immediately began installing Gupta acolytes in key state-owned enterprises to facilitate the capture project. Five weeks after his appointment, the cabinet approved Gigaba's recommendations for the board of Transnet.
Hogan spelt it out as such in her affidavit: "Iqbal Sharma, a former business partner of Gupta associate Salim Essa, was on that list and was later appointed as head of the procurement committee at Transnet.
"On 16 February 2011, [the] cabinet approved the appointment of Brian Molefe as Group CEO of Transnet and a little while later Mr [Siyabonga] Gama was reappointed as the CEO of TFR [Transnet Freight Rail] on the grounds that his misconduct had not been serious enough to warrant his dismissal."
Gigaba's influence in the Zuma administration was dependent on how well he serviced the Gupta network. The capture of the state flourished while he was in charge of state-owned companies.
He tried to get Sharma appointed as chair of Transnet and endorsed the promotion of Anoj Singh as chief financial officer.
At SAA, Gigaba delayed support for a turnaround strategy developed by the then board chair, Cheryl Carolus. When Carolus resigned, Gigaba inflicted Dudu Myeni on the airline. Myeni plunged the national carrier into such a state of crisis that the damage now seems irreversible. Finance minister Tito Mboweni has suggested closing it down.
Gigaba's career reached its climax when Zuma made him finance minister last year. Now he is politically isolated, humiliated and teetering close to the precipice.
The only thing that might spare him is that the ANC remains in a dilemma about what to do with errant leaders whose scandals discredit the party.
In Gauteng, the ANC has disagreed with a recommendation by its integrity commission that Qedani Mahlangu and Brian Hlongwa be suspended from party structures.
Mahlangu was implicated in the deaths of 144 mentally ill people, and Hlongwa was linked to corruption and fraud estimated at R1.2bn while he was health MEC.
The Gauteng ANC wants to keep Mahlangu and Hlongwa in its leadership structures, knowing this could be a deciding factor for people of good conscience to vote against the party next year.
Gigaba is also a dead weight to the ANC now. His ambitions to become president are in tatters and his position in President Cyril Ramaphosa's government is increasingly untenable.
Gigaba is wading through a deluge of muck as his questionable conduct since becoming minister and his colourful personal life erupted like a backed-up sewer this week.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Gigaba violated the constitution and the executive ethics code when he told an "untruth under oath" in the Fireblade Aviation case. She asked Ramaphosa to take "appropriate disciplinary action" against Gigaba and report on this to the National Assembly within 14 days.
The Constitutional Court turned down Gigaba's application to appeal against a high court ruling that he lied under oath. He might still try to take the public protector's report on review, but because he cannot overturn the ruling that he lied, he is unlikely to succeed.
One wonders what Gigaba thinks would be the best way for his debacle to be resolved.
Unlike Nhlanhla Nene, who offered the president his resignation as soon as a furore erupted over his concealed meetings with the Guptas, Gigaba appears to be clinging on by his fingernails.
The irony is that if Ramaphosa had axed him from the cabinet in February along with the other Gupta stooges, Gigaba might have been spared the excruciating shame of the past week.
As demeaning as it is to have his self-pleasuring home video widely distributed via social media, it is not the cause of his unravelling. It is the fact that eight years ago, his swagger and ambition induced him to become a chief enabler of state capture.
That is the reason for Gigaba's spectacular and deserved public fall...

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