Zuma: I don't remember insisting on Gama being appointed Transnet CEO

Former President Jacob Zuma said while he may not remember the details of the list of Transnet CEO candidates, he did recall Gama’s name making the cut.

Former President Jacob Zuma at the state capture commission on 16 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Former President Jacob Zuma's on Wednesday said former Siyabonga Gama was recommended to be the next Transnet CEO, at least from what he recalled.

Zuma was testifying for a third day at the Zondo commission in Parktown.

Zuma said while he may not remember the details of the list of Transnet CEO candidates, he did recall Gama’s name making the cut.

Gama was appointed as head of the parastatal in 2015.

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Last year, former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan told the commission that Zuma often interfered in her work, and as a result, eroded her executive authority.

She also told the commission that Zuma insisted that now suspended Transnet CEO Gama be appointed to the position despite the fact that he was facing a disciplinary hearing at the time.

Hogan said Zuma’s interference was visible.

“The inexcusable interference with my responsibility as a minister by President Zuma that eroded my executive authority,” she said during her testimony last year.

Hogan said another name, Telkom's current CEO Sipho Maseko, was put forward to be run Transnet but Zuma insisted that Gama be appointed.

“I was shocked and disappointed when President Zuma informed me he was adamant that Mr Gama was his only choice for GCEO. I informed him that was not possible and that Mr Gama was not the board’s choice and that I could not override the board and that they had undergone a very professional selection process.”

However, Zuma said he did not recall giving out such an instruction.

“How could I have said this when he was being charged with serious charges? I don’t remember myself insisting on this.”

Despite not recalling the details, he said he couldn’t have insisted on Gama being the CEO because he that would have undermined the appointment process.

“Because I would be saying there is no need for discussions. This is the choice that I made. No, the process doesn’t work like that.”

When asked by evidence leader if Zuma was aware that Gama was a subject of an inquiry, he said: “Yes there was a time when Mr Gama was accused. I’m not very sure whether this was discussed, I think it came just as a report about Mr Gama but [it] wasn’t discussed if we should take him or not.”

He said he does not recall putting his preference on Gama.

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