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‘It’s the merit’ – Van Rooyen on hiring adviser, chief of staff he didn’t know

The former Finance Minister, Des van Rooyen, said it didn’t matter to him that his advisor, Mahommad Bobat, was linked to Regiments Capital, which had serious allegations of malfeasance against it.

A YouTube screengrab of former Finance Minister Des van Rooyen testifying at the state capture commission of inquiry in Johannesburg on 11 August 2020. Picture: SABC/YouTube

JOHANNESBURG – Four-day Finance Minister Des van Rooyen insists his decision to appoint Mahommed Bobat as his adviser and Ian Whitley as chief of staff, even though he didn’t know them, was based on merit.

But the commission also heard that the African National Congress head of transformation Enoch Godongwana had told former Director-General Lungisa Fuzile that Treasury would get a Gupta minister, with advisers he didn’t know.

Fuzile told the commission that he realised on the day that Van Rooyen was sworn in that the former minister didn’t know his special adviser, Bobat.

And Van Rooyen said he met his chief of staff, Whitley, the day after he was sworn in as minister.

“It’s the merit aspect more than any other thing and maybe that is what is overshadowing my observations on other things. But the reality is that the legislation is very clear; South African, relevant qualifications, no criminal record. I mean those are clear guidelines.”

His parting shot – a jab at Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Goardhan whose niece has been appointed to the Eskom board.

“The issue of knowing, in fact, if we promote that we might be bordering on nepotism or cronyism. Remember, there is a serious accusation now that one has employed a niece in one of the state-owned enterprises.”

Van Rooyen said it didn’t matter to him that Bobat was linked to Regiments Capital, which had serious allegations of malfeasance against it.

WATCH: The Guptas, white monopoly capital; and appointing Bobat