Nyanda fired after refusing repeated invitations to go meet Guptas

Minister says he always insisted that those who wanted to see him privately, do so in his office

State capture: Nyanda fired after refusing repeated invitations to meet Guptas

Former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he was fired after refusing to honour invitations to meet with the Gupta family.

Nyanda, who was chief of staff of the ANC's liberation army uMkhonto weSizwe, was the second witness to testify about the appointment and removal of ministers on Thursday.

He told commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that he once met with the Gupta brothers at his office and they were accompanied by former president Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane.

The family has been accused of using its close relationship with the former president to loot from the state and to control some of his decisions, including the appointment of members of his executive and operations at state-owned enterprises.

Nyanda told the commission that following his first encounter with the Guptas, he would receive messages from "emissaries" requesting that he meets with the family.

"I found it a bit strange when they made the appointment to see me. I afforded them the respect to see me. They did, through my office. I didn't understand why other people who were not part of my office would want me to see them," said Nyanda.

Although he refused to name those peddling messages to him from the Guptas, Nyanda said he understood that the family knew he was close to those specific people and trusted them to communicate their wishes to the former minister.

"I didn't suspect anything because there were many people who wanted to see me privately, but I always insisted that it be in my office," he explained.

Nyanda, who only served as a minister for 18 months, was removed during an October 2010 Cabinet reshuffle.

He also told the commission that he received a call from someone in the Presidency while on a trip in Durban asking him to meet with Zuma, which was subsequently followed by a call from the then president telling him that the ANC's officials had decided to redeploy him to Germany.

Nyanda said after refusing to do so and opting to be a backbencher in Parliament, he tried to find out from the ANC's officials what he had done wrong.

"I'd heard rumours that I would be removed but did not believe them as there was general stability in the portfolios under my watch," said Nyanda.

Earlier, he confirmed former finance minister Trevor Manuel's testimony that former minister and now ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula was upset after finding out that he was going to be appointed a minister by the Gupta family.

"What was remarkable to me was that Mbalula made this outstanding revelation. It was actually a criticism of the way in which he had been informed about his impending appointment. He was, in other words, disturbed by it," Nyanda said.