The former Director General (DG) during president Thabo Mbeki’s term told the state capture inquiry Tuesday that he was shocked when the Gupta brothers warned the former GCIS Director General (DG) Themba Maseko that he would be removed from his position if he failed to deliver what they wanted.
Testifying before Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Reverend Frank Chikane said it was not surprising when Maseko asked to speak to him when, as a DG, he was faced with a challenge.
“He asked for advice. He had been asked [by former president Jacob Zuma] to go and meet the Guptas and he was worried about the implications. At that point, I think there were already indications there were problems,” Chikane said.
Chikane said he advised Maseko to follow Zuma’s instructions because there was no prima facie evidence that something was going to go wrong.
Chikane further recounted elements of his conversation with Maseko.
“When he came back, he said to me that ‘Well, now I have been there and they are asking me to do something that is irregular in terms of my portfolio.’ At that point I said to him: ‘Now you have the right to say no because it is about violating the law, irregular activities,'” Chikane testified.
Chikane said he also told Maseko that he should understand that by saying no, he would lose his job.
He told Zondo that during his time in government, several DGs who had problems or challenged ministers lost their jobs.
Chikane also told the commission that Maseko called him and said the Gupta family had given him an ultimatum. If he did not deliver, he would not be a DG by that Wednesday.
He said he received the call from Maseko on a Friday or a Saturday.
“It hasn’t happened like that before. And indeed, by Wednesday he called me and said: ‘I am no longer director general of GCIS.'”
“At that point I said: ‘Well, Mr Maseko, we now have enough evidence of this corrupt activity. This is the time that we should take it on.
ANC veteran Chikane said the “pain” about corrupt activities was that it costs “clean” people dearly.
“I am now convinced that the Gupta family was not an accident of history” Chikane said.
Chikane added: “If you have got a good intelligence service they will know that: that there are business people who are trying to corrupt ministers and […] you need to deal with that matter because otherwise it compromises the state.”
Chikane also spoke of corruption compromising the integrity of the state.
“A faction in a party or another entity would effectively have taken control of the state, because they run it from outside and this would be the birth, for me, of a dictatorship.
“Once they get the judiciary then you are all gone because then they can determine who goes to jail, who doesn’t go to jail and that to me is what defines state capture in that regard.”