Montana outlines tender pressure to Parliament
FORMER Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) chief executive Lucky Montana accused former ANC treasurergeneral Zweli Mkhize of demanding a 10% cut of a R465m locomotive tender for the ruling party.
Montana said he had met Angolan businessperson Maria Gomes with Mkhize at her home where the issue of finances for the ANC was also raised.
He also told Parliament that Tony Gupta and Duduzane Zuma tried to pressure him into giving them a contract to replace Metrorail’s trains. Montana also accused the Gupta family of trying to change the Prasa board.
Montana further accused Public Enterprises deputy minister Ben Martins of not telling the truth at a press conference, where he dismissed evidence given to Parliament’s Eskom inquiry by Eskom’s former legal head Suzanne Daniels. However, he strangely lauded Martins for taking a very firm stand, saying it was “how the bid by Rajesh Gupta and Duduzane Zuma failed”.
Giving evidence at the Eskom inquiry yesterday, Montana said Martins had tried to rebuff Daniels’ testimony immediately after she gave evidence to the inquiry last year and to also respond to the issue of his relationship with the Guptas.
He said Martins wanted to create the impression that he had brought members of the Gupta family to Montana when he was transport minister in September 2012.
“I was of course extremely disappointed because I felt the statement made by the deputy minister was not entirely truthful,” Montana said of Martins, with whom he said he has had a long relationship.
“Martins remains my leader. He’s a simple humble man, a communist and a freedom fighter. He’s a man who lives for the arts. He would teach me about paintings. This is a man I have huge respect for.”
Turning to the meeting held at Martins’ official residence in Pretoria, Montana said he was never told what would be discussed.
“I was chief executive of Prasa. Two gentlemen arrived, whom I’d never known. The minister introduced me to Duduzane Zuma and Tony Gupta.”
At his media briefing, Martins had claimed the Prasa board was discussed at a meeting in September 2012.
“There was no reason for me to discuss the board with people I’d never met in the first place. The minister introduced me to Duduzane Zuma and Tony Gupta. He said they were interested in Prasa’s rolling stock,” Montana said.
Montana told them he was on his way to a conference in Berlin and asked them to contact him on his return.
“In Berlin I got the shock of my life. Information came to me from different manufacturers who informed me the Guptas had told them they were working for Lucky Montana, Ben Martins and President Zuma. I was so furious.”
On his way back to South Africa, he said he called Martins from Frankfurt and said he wanted to meet those “chaps”.
“We met at his house. He didn’t know why I wanted to meet them. I was angry. It was a long meeting. The first hour I spoke in the meeting. I made it very clear,” he said.
Montana said a man from India, whose name he did not remember, was also at the meeting.
“So we fought at that meeting. Gupta and Duduzane were shameless. One of the things they said to me in the presence of the minister was ‘you are not going to be at Prasa forever. We can arrange something for you in Dubai’. That’s what they said, ‘work with us we’ll then take care of you’. That’s effectively what they said.
“They were furious, not with me. They were furious with Martins. A member of the Gupta family said ‘we don’t want Lucky but you said he’s your comrade’,” Montana said.
The unnamed Indian man subsequently called him and gave him the names of two people he wanted appointed on the Prasa committee that would evaluate a R50bn tender.
“They effectively said they wanted the two gentleman to sit on the evaluation of a R50bn Prasa tender, Salim Essa, whom I’d never met, and Iqbal Sharma, whom I’d also never met.
“I knew he was a member of the Transnet board. I rejected this. I proceeded to appoint a bid evaluation committee. They were unhappy with that and went to Martins to complain that I was uncooperative.”