Former treasury DG Lungisa Fuzile denied bid to cross-examine Des van Rooyen

Johannesburg – Former National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile will not be allowed to cross-examine former finance minister Des van Rooyen at the Zondo commission.

The chairperson for the inquiry Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said Fuzile would be unable to cross-examine Van Rooyen as “it was not in the best interest of the commission to grant the application”.

Zondo did not provide further reasons for his decision.

Fuzile had appeared at the inquiry in November 2018 and detailed his version of events of the days leading up to former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s removal in 2015 and Van Rooyen’s subsequent takeover.

Fuzile said Van Rooyen arrived in his new position with two Gupta-linked advisers, Mohamed Bobat and Ian Whitely, who acted as his superiors and overstepped their roles at the National Treasury.

One of the advisors, Bobat, had even shared confidential documents with Gupta-linked associate Eric Wood, who headed-up Trillian Capital.

Fuzile said this was a dangerous act as the information contained the department’s strategy in turning around the economy.

“The information contained in that document was about the strategic thinking of Cabinet on how first to understand the sluggishness of the South African economy and the causes,” said Fuzile. “Some of that information has the potential to move the market one way or the other. If you have the access to the information early, you don’t have to speculate.

“He had shared classified information intended for cabinet with people outside the government like Mr Eric Wood. I can only infer that these are people who sought to profit personally from such information. We do not know who else got the information once it had landed in Mr Whitely and Mr Bobat’s hands,” he said.

Fuzile had also told the inquiry how Van Rooyen had drafted a poor statement following Nene’s removal which did very little to calm the markets.

Van Rooyen had also requested that a third adviser be appointed without a contract being signed.

Van Rooyen was last year granted permission to cross-examine Fuzile. It is unclear when that cross-examination will take place.

The inquiry has adjourned and will resume hearings at 5pm with Judge Nana Makhubele expected to take the stand.

IOL

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