Public funds have been used to pay the bill for Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen’s futile attempt to keep Advocate Thuli Madonsela’s revelations regarding his regular visits to the Guptas’ house in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, out of the public eye.
In Madonsela’s last week as Public Protector, Van Rooyen – like President Jacob Zuma – brought an unsuccessful court order to stop the publication of the “state of capture” report.
In a parliamentary question to Van Rooyen, Economic Freedom Fighters MP Roger Xalisa asked if his department paid for his interdict attempt and, if so, how this fell within his department’s mandate.
Van Rooyen answered: “Yes, the allegations were levelled against the minister’s appointment and not in his private capacity.”
There is no indication what the costs were.
In the report, it was revealed that Van Rooyen, in the days before Zuma promoted him from ANC back bencher to “the most qualified minister of finances that I have ever appointed”, was a regular visitor to the Guptas in Saxonwold.
In the report, Madonsela wrote: “Having had regard to the wider allegations including the allegations that members of the Gupta family are involved in the appointment of Cabinet members, I reviewed the telephone records of Mr van Rooyen to establish his whereabouts on December 8 2015, the day Mr [Nhlanhla] Nene was informed by President Zuma that he would be removed as minister of finance.
“The telephone records show that Mr van Rooyen was at Saxonwold on December 8 2015. The records also show that Mr van Rooyen frequently visits Saxonwold. ”
Later in her report, Madonsela wrote: “Mr Ajay Gupta denied that Mr Van Rooyen visits his residence during my interview with him.”
She wrote that it was “worrying that Minister van Rooyen, who replaced Minister Nene, can be placed at the Saxonwold area on at least seven occasions including on the day before he was announced as minister. This looks anomalous given that at the time he was a Member of Parliament based in Cape Town.”
Van Rooyen also refused to answer a question from Kevin Mileham.
Mileham, the DA MP who called Van Rooyen a “two-minute noodle” in Parliament last month, asked if he had any conversations with his adviser Ian Whiteley and Eric Wood, chief executive of Trillian Capital Partners regarding municipal assets in his four days as finance minister or as minister of cooperative governance.
Trillian apparently has ties to the Guptas.
In October, the Sunday Times reported that there was a string of emails that connected
Van Rooyen, Whiteley, and Wood and in which it seemed that Wood already knew in October 2015 that Zuma was planning to fire Nene.
It was allegedly part of a long-term plan to give companies with ties to the Guptas the opportunity to get their hands on more than R400 billion in municipal spending
Reacting to Mileham’s question, Van Rooyen said: “The honourable member is kindly advised that this matter is sub judice.”