The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on Monday laid charges of high treason and corruption against Public Service Minister Faith Muthambi.
The charges were laid at the Brixton police station in Johannesburg, following revelations that Muthambi had emailed confidential government policy documents to one of the three Gupta brothers.
This emerged during the #GuptaLeaks. Recently, political leaders and civil society organisations laid charges against President Jacob Zuma, former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, his successor Matshela Koko and Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for allegedly being involved in state capture, as revealed in the #GuptaLeaks.
In an affidavit to police, Outa’s head of legal affairs Stefanie Fick said South Africa had been rocked by the revelations contained in emails leaked from the Gupta family. She said Outa received a copy of the emails from an unknown source.
“Amongst the Gupta emails was evidence of misconduct on the part of Azwihangwisi Faith Muthambi that constitutes crimes of corruption and treason,” Fick said.
She said that in July and August 2014, Muthambi sent a series of emails containing confidential information about executive policy and the scope of her ministerial powers to Tony Gupta. This was shortly after Zuma appointed her communications minister.
According to the affidavit, Muthambi sent two emails to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla in July 2014.
Chawla forwarded these to Tony Gupta and Zuma’s son, Duduzane. The first email included the president’s Proclamation 47 of 2014, which includes provision for the powers under the Electronic Communications Act (ECA) and Sentech Act to be moved from the communications minister to the telecommunications and postal services portfolio.
This meant that responsibility for matters including the broadcast digital migration policy would be taken away from Muthambi. She sent Chawla a document proposing the re-transfer of certain powers under the ECA back to her ministry.
“These sections must be transferred to the minister of communications,” she wrote. A second email, sent minutes later, contained the subject line “Responsibility for InfraCo and Sentech”.
“Sentech’s signal distribution must rest with the ministry of communications,” she wrote. Muthambi expressed concerns to Chawla about Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele tabling proposed amendments to the migration policy in Cabinet.
She sent an email to Chawla on July 29, 2014, with the message: “Despite my request, the cde is determined to table the matter in Cabinet tomorrow.” Fick said this was a “gross violation of Cabinet confidentiality”.
“Either she was conveying to Tony Gupta that these changes had to take place if the interests of the Gupta family were to be protected, or she was instructing Tony Gupta and/or Duduzane Zuma to use his influence with President Zuma to ensure that the proposed changed did take place,” the affidavit reads.
“There is no reasonable explanation for communications of this nature between the minister of communications and members of the Gupta group who control a television station subject to her regulatory jurisdiction.”
Portfolio director of special projects at Outa, Dominique Msibi, said Muthambi’s abuse of power had led to the SABC finding itself in billions of rands in debt.
“Faith Muthambi knowingly and deliberately shared three confidential Cabinet memoranda, through emails with Tony Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and Sahara’s CEO Ashu Chawla. These people should never have been privy to any ministerial communication and policy discussions,” Msibi said. Msibi said Muthambi had been “captured” by the Guptas and her alleged transgressions were serious.
In 2015, the Western Cape High Court found Muthambi acted irrationally and unlawfully in her appointment of former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng. This was after the Public Protector made findings including abuse of power and maladministration against him.
Author: Iavan Pijoos