Hogan's evidence a siren call to Zuma
The most disturbing revelation of Barbara Hogan’s testimony during her second day on the witness stand at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday must have been her evidence on how former president Jacob Zuma blatantly interfered in the operations of Eskom.
It might also have been her retelling of the day when Zuma fired her and Ahmed Kathrada – her partner who served on Robben Island for 26 years alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki – had to sit in the car outside the presidential mansion waiting for her because he wasn’t invited in.
Visit News24 Voices for informed and expert opinions on the news
Or, it could have been the details of a phone call from Gwede Mantashe to Hogan after the decision was made to fire the problematic Eskom CEO Jacob Maroga, and Mantashe said (with reference to Eskom’s then chairperson of the board, Bobby Godsell): “If a black guy must go, then a white guy must go too.”
The picture that Hogan painted of the Presidency of Zuma, and his leadership of the ANC, is one of blatant meddling, interference and riding roughshod over any and every rule, regulation or convention which guides good governance.
On Monday Hogan testified that Zuma acted as if he was empowered to do what he wants, regardless of the limitations on power on the office of the president. “He saw himself as he did in the ANC… giving instructions to people, running the show, telling them what to do…” was how Hogan described Zuma’s leadership style.
On Tuesday she testified how he put that perceived omnipotence into practice – and how the ANC did nothing. In fact, she earlier interrogated the ANC’s cadre deployment policy and said the party’s top structure interfered in the mandate of government by dictating who should be appointed where.
Hogan, who first served as Minister of Health after the death of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and was later appointed Minister of Public Enterprises, went to great lengths to explain the framework within which a Cabinet minister operates in relation to her colleagues and the president. She also detailed her relationship with the boards of state-owned enterprises and told Judge Raymond Zondo what the limits of her powers were and how she saw her role.
But Zuma seemingly had no such qualms about following Cabinet convention or the law – he just went ahead and did whatever he wanted. After Maroga resigned at Eskom, Hogan and the board attempted to repair the damage done by his exit, but Zuma was having none of it.
Hogan: “Zuma called me and said he gave Maroga permission to return to Eskom as CEO. We had a heated discussion and I told the president it won’t solve Eskom’s problems.”
Hogan told Zondo that Maroga created the impression, and said as much, that he was only answerable to the president and that Zuma’s actions in effect took away her executive authority.
“But in this case he went further than he did with Gama, he just went ahead and installed Maroga regardless of due process,” she said. “With the cumulative effects of the president’s behaviour that year… and the Eskom situation… it finally crystalised to me to what extent the president would assume authority which he did not have or how he would act outside his broad mandate.”
While Hogan helped illuminate the public’s understanding of the inner workings of the destructive Zuma presidency during the lost decade of misrule, the ANC’s Zizi Kodwa sat in the room listening. During tea breaks he was a willing interviewee and television news channels eagerly roped him in to get the governing party’s view. On Tuesday he said the process must be allowed to unfold and that South Africans must remember that Hogan’s testimony is but one person’s version of events.
That might well be so, but stack Hogan’s alongside that of Nhlanhla Nene, Mcebisi Jonas, Themba Maseko and Pravin Gordhan, and it’s a pretty damning account of how Zuma was left to run amok, aided and abetted by Luthuli House.
Hogan continues her testimony on Wednesday.