'I’m no Zuma man, never have been,' Lucky Montana tells Zondo inquiry

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Former Prasa boss Lucky Montana says he has never done the bidding of former president Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Former Prasa boss Lucky Montana says he has never done the bidding of former president Jacob Zuma. File photo.
Image: Thuli Dlamini/Pool

Former Prasa boss Lucky Montana says there has been a 14-year-long attempt to link him to former president Jacob Zuma. And throughout all those years, Montana insists, there is no shred of evidence linking him to Zuma.

Montana was testifying before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.

According to him, as far back as 2007 people accused him of misdirecting the company’s contracts to companies owned by individuals that backed Zuma’s then campaign for the ANC top position. And this continued when Zuma was president of the country.

Montana said neither Zuma nor the Gupta family have ever had influence over tenders and contracts at the commuter rail company.

“There has been this attempt to link former president Zuma to Prasa. And for some reason, I do not know why, I cannot run away from [association] with president Zuma,” said Montana.

“In 2007, my first year as CEO of Prasa, I had to write a letter explaining myself to the then minister of transport because there was an accusation that I was using Prasa to support the Zuma faction against the Mbeki faction.

“I was so angry and the minister had to say 'calm down'. When you look specifically, the only thing that [made] us close to the Guptas was the SABC breakfast. Other than that there is nothing.

“You will never find the Guptas or Zuma lurking behind any of the programmes we have implemented. I want to be hanged for my sins not because people think I am linked to Zuma for some reason.”

Commission chairperson deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo assured Montana that the inquiry was not party to any agenda to link him to Zuma by all means necessary. It was for this reason that Montana was afforded the opportunity to present his side of the story and dismiss whatever allegations against him he deemed to be untrue.

Said Zondo: “We, as the commission, must keep an open mind and keep within our terms of reference. We must not try to manipulate any evidence to put certain people in a bad light or create a foundation of certain findings to be made against certain people.

“In 2018, there is a memo that I sent to the head of the legal team, Paul Pretorius, and head of the investigation team, Terence Nombembe, where I said it is very important for investigators and members of the legal team that when they investigate, they do so to whoever irrespective of what their position might be, irrespective of what their position is at the time and irrespective of what their position may be in the future.

“My approach is that we must do what we have to do, but we must be fair. I am happy that you came and you are putting your side of the story, you are being heard. Along the way we may make mistakes, but it does not mean we have a certain agenda.”

TimesLIVE


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