The Mercury

‘Zuma ordered axing’ claim


THE late Collins Chabane received a phone call from former president Jacob Zuma telling him to remove Themba Maseko as government spokesman and appoint Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi instead, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard yesterday.

The former chief director for the office of the minister in the presidency, Brent Simons, took the stand and detailed the circumstan­ces around Maseko’s removal.

This followed Zuma’s evidence at the commission denying that he told Chabane to fire Maseko in 2011. “The minister (Chabane) told me he received a call from former president Zuma that Maseko must be replaced… Manyi was a name given to take up Maseko’s position.

“People say the minister passed on and is not here to represent himself but there are also staff members whom minister Chabane spoke to,” Simons said. Chabane died in a car crash in 2015.

Simons added that Chabane was visibly upset about Zuma’s phone call, saying he was not keen on Zuma’s chosen replacemen­t.

He said Chabane was concerned about the conflict of interest surroundin­g Manyi’s roles as director-general of labour and president of the Black Management Forum at the time.

Evidence leader Susan Wentzel asked Simons: “Are you aware that the former president said he did no such thing? What was your initial reaction to his testimony?”

Simons replied: “My reaction to the former president’s testimony was that of disappoint­ment because minister Chabane was very clear in terms of how he handled matters discussed.

“When he (Zuma) denied this and said Maseko was name dropping, that was in total contradict­ion to the minister’s character.” |

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