State capture talking points: death threats and Duduzane's Merc
Mcebisi Jonas' revelations on day three of the judicial inquiry into state capture were nothing less than bombshells.
Although it confirmed what he told former public protector Thuli Madonsela and what was reported in the media over the last 24 months, he coloured in the state capture narrative with remarkable detail, with nothing being more shocking than the death threats levelled at him by Ajay Gupta.
He spoke extensively about his infamous meeting with Gupta at the family's Saxonwold compound, the events surrounding Nhlanhla Nene's dismissal as finance minister and subsequent events.
This is what you need to know from Jonas' testimony:
Duduzane Zuma, former president Jacob Zuma's son, drove Jonas to the Guptas' Saxonwold mansion in a "two-door Mercedes".
Zuma and his sidekick, alleged arms deal fixer Fana Hlongwane, came across as weaklings who were only there to organise access for Gupta. They harassed and badgered Jonas, only to fade into the background and remain quiet once The Don from Saxonwold entered the room.
Gupta seems to be a bombastic bully, who marched into the room where Jonas waited with Zuma and Hlongwane. He proceeded to explain to Jonas that he has gathered intelligence on him and that he has "the capability" to do so. He threatened to use that information "to destroy" Jonas' political career.
"You must understand, we control everything: intelligence, the Hawks, the NPA… the old man will do anything we tell him to do," Gupta told a startled Jonas. "I was shocked and angered," he told the commission.
Gupta, "who spoke like a radio", created the impression that the family was merely running a legitimate business enterprise and he explained they wanted to increase their income from the state. They had by then pocketed R6bn, and wanted to increase that to R8bn. Jonas was offered R6m and a down payment of R600 000 if he was willing to "clean up" National Treasury.
Gupta wanted Treasury "cleaned up" and demanded that Jonas, once he became finance minister, fire Lungisa Fuzile (director general), Ismail Momoniat (deputy director general for tax), Andrew Donaldson (head of the budget office) and Kenneth Brown (chief procurement officer).
Jonas was agitated and angry and attempted to leave. Gupta walked him out the door and seemed like he wanted to punch Jonas, who had dismissed all the businessman's advances. He then added that if details of this meeting became public, he would "kill" Jonas.
Jonas shared what had happened with Nene. They had to meet on the balcony of Jonas' office at Treasury's ministerial offices on Church Square because they feared that listening devices had been planted in their offices.
Jonas had no confidence in the institutions comprising the criminal justice system to investigate the matter. "The police, Hawks were seriously compromised… there was no reasonable prospect of success."
Treasury received no support from Zuma and there was open hostility between its ministers and Zuma and the rest of Cabinet. They attempted to "hold the line" against state capture, Jonas said.
Nene was dismissed because he was opposed to the nuclear deal which Zuma was pursuing with Russia, Jonas said. "The pressure on us from Zuma to approve the deal was immense," he said.