If you’ve missed it, here’s Hlongwane’s letter to the Public Protector. First published in Citizen.
29 September 2016
Dear Advocate Madonsela,
Ref: Investigation into complaints of improper and unethical conduct by the President and officials of state organs due to their alleged inappropriate relationship with members of the Gupta Family
I feel compelled to give an accurate and truthful version of certain alleged events within the remit of your investigation (referenced above). I make this submission fully aware that it is all politics and factionalism at play in the ANC and I’m happy to explain that if you deem it necessary. I must make the point that state organs should not be used to settle political problems especially Chapter 9 institutions such as the Public Protector. History will judge us all harshly, including you as the current Public Protector. Please do not let yourself be manipulated to further the agenda of one faction or another.
To give you some background, I have known Deputy Finance Minister Jonas for some time, and we became particularly close after the Eastern Cape ANC sent him to the National Parliament. This reality/uncertain future gave birth to a discussion on venturing into business together – and we duly did.
We negotiated a number of transactions and put our respective teams together to operationalise our vision. As our venture had zero income at the time, if fell upon me to provide financial/ material support for our existence. I did this as both a comrade and a friend. Obviously, his appointment to the position of Deputy Finance Minister opened more avenues for our venture.
With respect to the alleged meeting involving Deputy Finance Minister Jonas, I had been made aware (by Duduzane Zuma) that Deputy Finance Minister Jonas had made statements that I was blackmailing him. I asked Duduzane Zuma to urgently convene a meeting the three of us. The blackmail suggestion seemed so incredible and at odds with our friendship, I deemed it a betrayal of our comradeship and wanted to address it.
Duduzane Zuma duly convened the meeting at the Rosebank Hyatt. Prior to my arrival, I interrupted the meeting by calling Duduzane to speak to Deputy Finance Minister Jonas. In that conversation with Deputy Finance Minister Jonas, I proposed we move that meeting to a private venue. All parties agreed to this.
At the private venue, the blackmail story was particularly raised with Deputy Finance Minister Jonas. He (Jonas) stated that he had no recollection of any such blackmail conversations with anyone. I’d like to highlight that Deputy Finance Minister Jonas and I have spent lots of time together. He was a regular at my house and is very well known by my family and my staff. His team was a regular at my residence too. Clever people can authenticate this with modern technology.
During this discussion, a Gupta member entered the room briefly and then left. I categorically deny that there was ever a discussion or offer, by anybody, of any government position to Deputy Finance Minister Jonas. No commercial discussion took place either. As cadres of the ANC, Deputy Finance Minister and I have had regular political discussions.
It should be noted that we are enjoined by the ANC Constitution to defend our leadership. Consequently, none of us should manufacture stories. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but none of us is entitled to our own facts.
The history and detail of my business/financial relationship with Deputy Finance Minister Jonas is a private matter between us. I intend keeping it that way.
I do hope this gives you clarity on certain alleged events.