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By Citizen Reporter


Des van Rooyen granted leave to cross-examine former Treasury DG Lungisa Fuzile

The former finance minister is also expected to testify at the commission. 

The chairperson of the state capture commission of inquiry, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has granted former president Jacob Zuma-appointed finance minister Des Van Rooyen, whose tenure lasted only one weekend, leave to cross-examine former director-general of National Treasury Lungisa Fuzile.

Van Rooyen is also expected to testify at the commission.

Testifying at the commission last year, Fuzile said that van Rooyen’s “special adviser”, Mohamed Bobat, called the shots.

According to Fuzile’s testimony, the infamous Gupta family’s attempt to take over National Treasury in 2015 was shrouded in secrecy.

Van Rooyen, who was one of the Gupta’s lackeys, refused to shake the hand of then National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile minutes after being sworn in.

Fuzile had earlier met a Gupta associate, Bobat, who had introduced himself as “the finance minister’s special adviser”.

What surprised Fuzile was that there was already a special adviser “appointed” before Van Rooyen assumed responsibilities as minister – a contravention of the ministerial handbook, Cabinet legal provisions, and the Public Finance Management Act.

These were among many revelations made by Fuzile on Thursday, the second day of his testimony before the commission of inquiry into state capture.

He sketched a picture of how the little-known ANC parliamentary backbencher Van Rooyen, who had replaced Nhlanhla Nene in one of the most strategic ministries in government, was committed to carrying out a Gupta mandate.

Fuzile said: “The first notable thing that worried me was the pounding the rand was taking against the dollar.

“I was aware that when the currency takes such a knock, we would be forced to make huge borrowings of about R11 billion a week.

“On any given day, the ability to get that money depends on perception of risk by investors and lenders.

“If a dollar they invested in South Africa would be less a week later, they would be hesitant to invest. Sharp movements concern them. Investor confidence dipped.”

No stranger to Van Rooyen who had earlier served as a member of the finance portfolio committee in parliament, Fuzile “reached out” to him and sent him a congratulatory SMS message and called him on the morning of December 10 2015.

“I wanted him to consider issuing a media statement in the wake of the currency fall. I wanted to help him create a carefully worded statement, but he turned that down, saying Treasury officials had a tendency of issuing statements and that had to come to an end,” said Fuzile.

Nene vacated his office, with no official handover having taken place.

Fuzile said he was astounded by Van Rooyen’s message that he would come to the office in his own time.

“This conveyed excessive preoccupation with authority.”

On meeting Bobat before and learning of his appointment as special adviser to Van Rooyen, Fuzile said: “I was taken aback by this because all the ministerial special advisers during my tenure had signed a contract with me.”

Bobat then allegedly instructed Fuzile to “work on a statement for the minister”.

Fuzile said: “It was clear that Bobat did not care to check with his principal on what to do and why. This was in direct contradiction with his principal. Advisers don’t issue instructions to DGs. It is abnormal and illegal. It became clear to me he did not care about protocol or civilities.”

Fuzile said Bobat had also been agitated by Van Rooyen not taking his call before being sworn in as minister and their interactions suggested that he was Van Rooyen’s senior.

Bobat, he said, spoke to Van Rooyen “as if their roles were reversed”. He said Van Rooyen “came with the agenda given to him by the Guptas”.

When Fuzile arrived at the minister’s office, for his first meeting, he found him in the company of Bobat and two Gupta business associates, Malcolm Mabaso and Ian Whitley.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu, additional reporting by Brian Sokutu)

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