MUTHAMBI FACES TREA­SON CHARGES OVER GUP­TAS

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - KHAYA KOKO AND KHANYISILE NG­COBO

FAITH MUTHAMBI is the first of many min­is­ters to have trea­son charges laid against her for be­ing al­legedly “cap­tured” by the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily.

She is ac­cused of leak­ing con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to them.

This was the as­ser­tion made by Do­minique Msibi, the spe­cial projects di­rec­tor at civil group Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Msibi spoke to The Star shortly af­ter Outa laid trea­son charges against Muthambi yes­ter­day at Brix­ton po­lice sta­tion in Joburg. Ac­cord­ing to the or­gan­i­sa­tion, she had de­lib­er­ately shared con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net mem­o­randa, al­legedly via emails sent to Tony Gupta; Duduzane Zuma, the pres­i­dent’s son; and IT com­pany Sa­hara chief ex­ec­u­tive Ashu Chawla.

Outa fur­ther al­leges that Muthambi, in her for­mer role as the min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, “plunged” the SABC into bil­lions of rand of debt by un­law­fully ap­point­ing the pub­lic broad­caster’s for­mer chief oper­a­tions of­fi­cer, Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, de­spite the find­ings of for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela that Mot­soe­neng had abused his power at the SABC.

Msibi em­pha­sised that Muthambi, who is cur­rently Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Ser­vice and Ad­min­is­tra­tion, was not be­ing sin­gled out by her or­gan­i­sa­tion, say­ing Outa could only lay charges one at a time.

“We don’t do it ran­domly. We do it as we gain strong ev­i­dence against a per­son im­pli­cated. So a per­son we have strong ev­i­dence against will be the next per­son in line,” she promised.

Asked why the civil group chose trea­son charges specif­i­cally, Msibi as­serted: “Shar­ing con­fi­den­tial cab­i­net mem­o­randa and other state com­mu­ni­ca­tion is ba­si­cally com­pro­mis­ing the se­cu­rity of the state. It’s not a light charge; it’s not some­thing we do lightly. It’s putting the state it­self at risk, as op­posed to steal­ing money.”

Outa’s bone of con­tention lay with a sup­posed se­ries of emails the min­is­ter sent to Tony Gupta, in which she is al­leged to have writ­ten: “These sec­tions must be trans­ferred to the min­is­ter of com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

Outa claims that these “sec­tions” refers to an ap­par­ently at­tached doc­u­ment de­scrib­ing cer­tain statu­tory pro­vi­sions that the for­mer com­mu­ni­ca­tions min­is­ter wanted trans­ferred to her port­fo­lio from the De­part­ment of Postal Ser­vices and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions.

“In the emails, the word ‘must’ creeps in, beg­ging the ques­tion: who is ac­tu­ally in charge, the Gup­tas or the pres­i­dent?” Outa asked in a state­ment.

Mean­while, Msibi added that Outa had done its home­work ex­ten­sively, and de­duced that a trea­son charge was jus­ti­fi­able to lay against Muthambi.

“It’s not just the trea­son charges against Muthambi; she rat­i­fied the ap­point­ment of Mot­soe­neng and we know what fi­nan­cial dam­age and rep­u­ta­tional dam­age has been done to the SABC un­der his ten­ure,” she ex­plained.

Asked which min­is­ter would be the next to be charged, Msibi said: “We’re fo­cus­ing on Muthambi right now. How­ever, our in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues. Re­mem­ber, we also in­ves­ti­gate on our side to make sure we have enough to lay charges (be­fore pro­ceed­ing). While Muthambi’s charges have been laid, there are oth­ers we’re prepar­ing for.”

On whether Outa was con­sid­er­ing charg­ing the Gup­tas, she said: “I wouldn’t rule it out, there’s enough ev­i­dence but we’ll take it as we compile our cases and in­ves­ti­gate.”

IN OUTA’S SIGHTS: Faith Muthambi

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