Phumla Williams says Mzwanele Manyi tried to influence her state capture testimony
Manyi has confirmed sending her the SMS
Acting Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) director-general Phumla Williams has told the state capture inquiry that she believes her former boss, Mzwanele Manyi, is trying to influence her testimony.
Williams was testifying about her experience at GCIS after Themba Maseko was effectively fired by former president Jacob Zuma. He was replaced by Manyi, who is a staunch supporter of the former president and a known Gupta associate.
Last year, Manyi bought the Guptas’ media assets — The New Age (TNA) newspaper and ANN7. This year, the newspaper was put under provisional liquidation and the TV station has stopped broadcasting.
On Friday, following a tea break, Williams said she had reviewed a text message from Manyi telling her to tell the commission that the TNA Business Breakfast initiative did not happen under his watch.
This was after Williams testified that she was not aware that GCIS was involved in any type of procurement to do with the breakfasts, but became aware of them after an interview with the Hawks.
Manyi confirmed to TimesLive that he had indeed sent such a text message to Williams‚ but said he was only “setting the record straight”.
“Yes‚ I sent the SMS. I was not trying to influence her but she was talking about things that I brought‚ so in the same spirit of that she mentioned the TNA breakfasts and I am only setting the record straight.
“I will deal with my things but the TNA breakfasts happened after my time (at GCIS). It is not my doing and that is all‚” he said.
Zondo instructed commission officials to follow up on the “very serious” matter‚ which Williams explicitly said was an attempt to influence her testimony.
Williams has been telling the commission about the changes Manyi made to the GCIS’s bid adjudication committee and tender processes. Manyi was appointed GCIS director-general in 2011, the same day that Maseko was told to vacate the position.
Maseko has indicated he was removed from the GCIS after he refused to help the Guptas after reviewing a call from Zuma telling him to do so.
Manyi requested special accreditation to attend the state capture inquiry on Friday‚ commission head judge Raymond Zondo was informed.
Evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr‚ who is leading the questioning of Williams‚ told Zondo the commission had received a request from Manyi to be accredited and attend the hearings.
Zondo responded that he did not know what Manyi’s request meant‚ as any member of the public is able to attend the inquiry.
It is not yet known whether Manyi will testify at the commission about the Gupta media companies.
The commission is investigating as part of its terms of reference whether money was improperly directed to ANN7 and The New Age from the government and state-owned enterprises.