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MTN chairman Mcebisi Jonas denies state capture accusation

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MTN Group chairman Mcebisi Jonas.
MTN Group chairman Mcebisi Jonas.

MTN Group chairman Mcebisi Jonas, a key witness at the state capture inquiry, stands accused of meddling with tenders to supply aircraft maintenance parts to SAA Technical (SAAT), an allegation he has denied.

The Business Day reports the allegation against Jonas covered the time he was deputy minister of finance.

Jonas replaced Phuthuma Nhleko as group chairman in December last year.

He is being accused of wrongdoing by airline executive Sibongile Sambo, who claims a meeting was organised for Jonas to be introduced to AAR Corporation (AAR), a US-based aviation company that was involved in various collaborative projects with SRS Aviation.

Sambo is founder of SRS Aviation, a 100% female black-owned aviation company providing private jets and helicopter rental services to private and public customers.

According to the publication, this meeting was in relation to tenders to supply aircraft maintenance parts to SAAT.

It says on Tuesday, Sambo suggested to the commission that Jonas had an undisclosed interest in a proposed black economic empowerment consortia involved with AAR, and that a Bongani More, who allegedly held shares on his behalf, was his relative.

In her affidavit, which was seen by the Business Day, Sambo said in part: “I was informed that Mr More’s allocated 13.33% shares were being held for the then deputy minister of finance, namely Mr Mcebisi Jonas... Since then, I had decided to walk away from this tender.”

On Wednesday, Jonas hit back, saying in a statement: “This is false. She provides no evidence for this gratuitous allegation, other than what is colloquially referred to as 'double hearsay'.

“The allegation that I am related to Bongani More or that he held shares on my behalf in the BEE consortium is false. I have never held any interest whatsoever in any BEE consortium that partnered with AAR,” said Jonas.

“Neither of the allegations she makes about me are based on any personal knowledge, nor has she provided any documentary evidence for the allegations made. It is correct that I was invited to a dinner in Cape Town where I was introduced to a Ms Jackson, representative of AAR, whom I was informed was interested in investing in SA.”

The publication says Jonas, who is a former chairman and non-executive director of the Public Investment Corporation, said he told Jackson that she should speak to the relevant management of SAA. “I made it clear that I was not involved in the management of either SAA or SAAT.”

SAA and subsidiary SAAT are among key state-owned enterprises badly affected by state capture.

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