Durban – Almost three years after it happened, former finance and home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has opened up for the first time about the infamous early February 2018 interview he conducted with US news broadcaster CNN, where he said he hoped former President Jacob Zuma would “do the right thing.”
In an exclusive sit-down interview conducted with Independent Media in Durban on Tuesday, Gigaba said the full context of why he said this was explained to Zuma when they met in Nkandla shortly after the interview.
Many, especially fervent Zuma supporters, viewed the interview as a stab in Zuma’s back since the former president had appointed Gigaba finance minister despite the markets having preferred Pravin Gordhan to retain the position. They alleged Gigaba made the comments to please the incoming Cyril Ramaphosa administration, when it was clear Gigaba would be removed from the finance portfolio immediately after the ousting of Zuma.
At the time the interview was conducted, Zuma, who was digging in his heels, was under pressure to resign as the country’s president or be ousted through a parliamentary vote of no confidence and lose all his retirement perks. Gigaba’s comment was widely interpreted as saying Zuma would do the right thing, resign and keep his benefits.
Gigaba’s detractors used that famous CNN screenshot of the interview when he was put under pressure to resign as home affairs minister in early November 2018 and asked him to be like Zuma and “do the right thing.”
However, Gigaba said there was never any backstabbing on the matter as some suspected and he explained himself.
The interview with Gigaba, who now works in the policy unit of the ANC at Luthuli house, was wide-ranging, touching on several topical issues. He was cornered about the allegations made by his soon-to-be former wife, Nomachule Mngoma. The on-court records allegations were that he used his political power to get the Hawks to intervene in a domestic dispute and got her arrested.
Gigaba said the Hawks got into the picture because they were already investigating a matter. When Mngoma, damaged a Mercedes-Benz belonging to his friend Pieterson Siyaya, the Hawks were called because it was linked to the sensitive matter the Hawks were looking at.
Mngoma was contacted for comment, and she said she would at a later stage.