Mon­tana out­lines ten­der pres­sure to Par­lia­ment

The New Age (Western Cape) - - Politics - DEN­NIS CRUYWAGEN news@the­

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.”

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