Former government spokesperson Themba Maseko has broken his silence on why President Zuma fired him, after a long period of silence on the matter.
Speaking to reporters recently, Maseko, former CEO of the Government on Communication and Information Systems said Zuma ordered his dismissal after he snubbed the Guptas over a contract.
According to him, government was spending R600 million on media platforms at that time. So the Guptas requested him to transfer the government expenditure to its media company.
He disclosed that the lobby started in October 2010 after a meeting at the Gupta’s home in Saxonwold. Maseko said a month after the meeting, Ajay Gupta started flooding his phone with calls, asking him to award the contract to the New Age newspaper.
In addition to that, he said Ajay also demanded to have a meeting with him severally just to have the advertisement contract. But when he didn’t consent, Maseko said the Guptas threatened to drag him to his superiors and also “sort out” his case.
Asked why he snubbed the Guptas, the former government spokesperson said he knew the influential family were accused of undue influence in the government and state capture.
A month after, Maseko said the Guptas finally made good their threat. According to Maseko, in January 2011, he was invited into the office of late former minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane. Maseko said in the course of their discussion, the late minister broke the news that President Zuma had instructed him to redeploy him or terminate his contract.
Maseko said to his shock, he learned about his dismissal in the media shortly after he left for a Cabinet break. And by then, the Presidency was yet to issue a statement on it (this suggests that the Guptas, perhaps knew about it even before the presidency released a statement).
He said after consulting Zuma shortly, Chabane then released an impromptu statement on his dismissal. Chabane later redeployed Themba Maseko to the department of public service and administration as its director-general.
Meanwhile, Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments – the holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses has refuted Maseko’s claims. He described them as a “totally unfounded and vicious politically driven attack, using the Gupta family as a proxy.”
On the other hand, the Presidency has distanced itself from the claims. “It is unfortunate that Mr Themba Maseko wants to drag the president into matters he thinks are related to the end of his tenure at GCIS,” it said.