By Kailene Pillay
Former Minister Malusi Gigaba is expected to begin cross-examination of his estranged wife Norma Mngoma, after he concludes his oral evidence on Wednesday.
Gigaba returned to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into allegations of state capture on Monday, where he continued to challenge Mngoma’s testimony that his ministerial decisions were heavily influenced by the Guptas.
Gigaba again denied allegations by his estranged wife and told the commission that the infamous family were not his advisers, as he only shared a friendly relationship with Ajay Gupta.
He also refuted claims that his special adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu acted like a bully, on his behalf, during appointment processes at state-owned enterprises, while he was minister.
Gigaba challenged the testimony made by the former chief executive of South African Airways (SAA) Sizakele Mzimela, of how he would “remain silent” while bullying tactics were used on the SAA board and her personally.
Mzimela said Gigaba also remained silent when Gupta-linked Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal behaved in an unacceptable manner, during a meeting to discuss SAA closing its flight route from Johannesburg to Mumbai.
According to Mzimela, Goyal “arrogantly” demanded SAA scrap its Johannesburg-Mumbai flight route because Jet Airways was a better airline.
She said Gigaba again remained silent during a follow-up meeting, when Mahlangu berated SAA and her for continuing with Mumbai flights. She said Mahlangu demanded they enter into an agreement with Jet Airways.
Mzimela said she eventually lost her temper with Mahlangu, who accused her of sabotaging the Jet-SAA deal. She said the board was also accused of being unpatriotic.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said that Mahlangu’s role was not what he would have expected from an adviser.
“The tone and manner in which Mahlangu is speaking gives me the impression that he was at the meeting in his own right,” Justice Zondo said.
Zondo put it to Gigaba that Mahlangu’s actions were done on his behalf and executives would feel compelled to oblige because he was the minister’s adviser.
However, Gigaba denied that Mahlangu did his bidding and acted on his behalf.
Gigaba said there was never a time where he would “put words in people’s mouths” or give an instruction to someone to be rude on his behalf.
“You can bully the chief executive as much as you want, but you will have to bully an entire board to get a specific outcome,” Gigaba said.
But, according to Mzimela’s affidavit, Mahlangu apologised to her after the meeting and told her that he was acting at the behest of Gigaba.
Mzimela resigned in 2012, after two-thirds of the board had quit. Political Bureau