Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo believes the ANC is abusing its control of the state to unfairly benefit the party financially.
Zondo made the observation on Tuesday at the state capture inquiry during the evidence of former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi.
Tsotsi told the commission how he had sat at the main table during the ANC anniversary celebrations gala dinner in January 2014.
The gala dinner takes place on the eve of the annual ANC anniversary celebrations and is used as a fundraising platform to contribute to the party coffers.
The event is generally attended by the who’s who of big business who buy expensive tables to be seated closer to ANC leaders.
Tsotsi told the commission that he sat at the main table where the ANC top six leaders — Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Baleka Mbete, Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte and Zweli Mkhize — were seated.
Seated at this table were also the Gupta brothers Ajay and Atul as well as then SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala.
Zondo was taken aback by Tsotsi and Tshabalala’s presence at this expensive table, saying if Eskom and the SABC forked out for their seats, it was a clear abuse of state power.
This because Zondo doubted much that board members of state-owned entities ever bought tables at gala dinners of other political parties that are not in government.
Zondo asked: “So Eskom was sponsoring a political party event, why is it proper that that should happen?”
Tsotsi responded: “Management asked me to attend and speak on behalf of Eskom at this function.”
The deputy chief justice was not convinced. “Did Eskom or other state-owned companies ever do such things in DA meetings, in UDM meetings, in Inkatha [IFP] meetings and Freedom Front Plus meetings?” he asked, to which Tsosti replied in the negative.
Zondo said: “I do not think they do the same with any other political party. As I recall, even the ANC leaders when they give out invitations, you as a company, your benefit you derive is that you are going to network with the ministers and high-ranking officials of a political party that is in government. To me that does not sound right.”
Tsotsi insisted he had attended the meeting without Eskom paying for it. In fact, he believes the Gupta-owned The New Age had paid for him.
Zondo was not buying it.
“The ANC is not going to allow you to sit on the table with the top six if you are not going to help them raise funds, why should they do that? If the ANC allow you to sit there with the top six, you would have made a serious financial contribution to their cause of fundraising.
“Also why would the Gupta brothers pay for you with their money?”
Tsotsi continues to give testimony at the commission.