Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
21 Nov 2019
1:49 pm

Nkoana-Mashabane tells Zondo she did inform Zuma of Koloane’s role in the Gupta Waterkloof landing

Makhosandile Zulu

The minister says she informed the then president about this when Koloane was nominated for appointment as ambassador.

Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has 'failed to secure the budget to combat gender-based violence'. Picture: Gallo Images

Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Thursday told the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that she did tell then president Jacob Zuma that Bruce Koloane had been found guilty on three charges for his role in the Gupta family’s April 30, 2013, aeroplane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base before the former president approved Koloane’s appointment as ambassador to the Hague, Netherlands.

Nkoana-Mashabane served as the minister of international relations and cooperation at the time and had written a letter dated June 3, 2014, to Zuma nominating Koloane for appointment as ambassador to the Netherlands. Zuma signed the letter on the next day.

In the letter, however, Nkoana-Mashabane did not mention that Koloane had been charged for his role in the Gupta Waterkloof landing and that the former ambassador had pleaded guilty and was found guilty.

Nkoana-Mashabane told Zondo said that at the time she nominated Koloane for appointment as ambassador he had served his “jail term” and since he had returned from suspension, he had to be placed in a position because he could not be axed without a reason.

Evidence leader advocate Thandi Norman asked Nkoana-Mashabane whether when she made the nomination she was not concerned that Koloane would repeat the same transgressions he was found guilty of in the Gupta Waterkloof landing if and when appointed as ambassador to the Netherlands.

“This is post all the sagas, so how do I bank a person in a department forever because there is pre-Waterkloof, post disciplinary process and post six months, how do I keep the person coming to work and doing nothing and he has experience,” the minister responded.

The six months Nkoana-Mashabane referred to was the period in which nominees being appointed as ambassadors received training were being vetted internally and by the countries likely to receive them. During this time, the president can change their minds on nominees.

ALSO READ: Nkoana-Mashabane tells Zondo she learned of Gupta Waterkloof landing on TV

Nkoana-Mashabane further said that when Koloane returned from suspension, he had shown “contrition” and that there had been a vacancy for an ambassador to the Netherlands.

“He wasn’t sent to a big country or whatever … we sent him to a limited space,” Nkoana-Mashabane said, adding that consideration had been made that Koloane would be sent to a “space” where he could not repeat “the same mistake”.

Zondo said it was important that he understood clearly Nkoana-Mashabane’s nomination of Koloane because he had “difficulty with it”.

Nkoana-Mashabane said she had no evidence, and she still did not, that after Koloane had served the sanctions recommended by disciplinary hearing that he had not learnt his lesson.

She further said that when writing to the president to recommend a nominee for an ambassador, the “good and bad” were not listed and that the receiving country could decline the nominee, adding that the Gupta Waterkloof landing was “all over the country”.

Zondo questioned Nkoana-Mashabane whether she did not consider it appropriate or necessary to inform the president that Koloane was “somebody who played this particular role in regard to the Waterkloof landing” and then add recommendations why the head of state should appoint him.

Nkoana-Mashabane said nothing had been secret about the landing, adding that at the time she nominated Koloane the disciplinary process had been concluded and that the “president had all the powers to say no to this one”.

Zondo asked Nkoana-Mashabane if she had discussed with the then president that Koloane had played a role in the Gupta Waterkloof landing and had pleaded and been found guilty of this, including name-dropping the president and minister’s names to officials at the department of defence.

“Did you place that before the president in a discussion or in any other form?”

“I did,” Nkoana-Mashabane responded.

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