The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation calls on the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, to recall Ambassador Bruce Koloane from the Netherlands.
This follows Koloane’s testimony earlier this week before the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture. Koloane admitted to having used the names of former President Jacob Zuma and two Cabinet Ministers to allow for the landing of the Gupta family’s wedding guests at the Waterkloof airbase in 2013.
The Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton said, “After having his memory ‘refreshed’, Ambassador Koloane indicated that while head of state protocol, he used the then President’s name to facilitate the unauthorised landing of wedding guests at the Waterkloof airbase. It is clear that his ethical and moral standing to represent our country as a diplomat is in question. We are of the view that he should be recalled from his position and be subjected to the necessary steps, which should result in him being permanently relieved of his duties. We cannot have somebody – who has admitted to lying, and who was seemingly unashamed of doing the bidding of those who have to come to epitomise state capture in South Africa – being a representative of the country.”
He added, “One would have expected that Koloane’s regret over the Waterkloof saga would have led him to being more circumspect about his dealings with the Gupta family. However, the #GuptaLeaks paint a different picture, with reports of his continued interaction with the family, including arranging for friends to stay at their Limpopo guesthouse, and assisting the Guptas in making contact with a Dutch business. Aspects of these leaks were confirmed by him at the Commission.”
Balton furthermore stated that it was “rather surprising that Koloane was appointed as an ambassador in the first place”. After being the ‘fall-guy’ for the Waterkloof debacle, Koloane was subsequently appointed to his current ambassadorial post by Zuma himself. “We must ask if this ‘soft sanction’ is perhaps indicative of his ‘reward’ for having agreed to be the fall guy behind the unapproved landing at a national keypoint.
“It is quite incredulous that a President would deploy someone, who abused his name and that of cabinet members, to a senior diplomatic post. It really does make one question if the public is indeed being told all of the facts around the Waterkloof landing saga,” he added.
He noted that Koloane’s testimony occurred in the same period in which the 56th anniversary of the arrest of the Rivonia Trialists was being marked. “Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Andrew Mlangeni, Denis Goldberg and others were arrested on 11 July 1963 in Rivonia. The leadership values – the sense of ‘country duty’ – that the Rivonia generation imbued, stands in stark contrast to the actions of the likes of Koloane.
“In reviewing the commitment of the Rivonia Trialists, and that of others, to this country, we have no dearth of examples of what good leadership entails. As South Africans, we should not be forced to accept current office bearers and representatives of our country, who fall short of the types of values and ethical standards that is expected of them.”
Balton also stated that the then Indian High Commissioner, Virendra Gupta – who allegedly called Koloane around the request to clear the plane landing – should be asked to appear before the Zondo Commission. “He must account for his role in this saga. The necessary engagements with the Indian government should also take place so that they probe his conduct and take the necessary actions against him.
“Perhaps the Indian public too, would be interested to know the details surrounding the Waterkloof incident, in light of the more recent controversy within their own country around the latest Gupta family wedding extravaganza held in the Himalayas,” he said.
“The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation had indicated in 2013, that South Africans needed to understand how this single family came to wield such enormous power and influence over sections of government and its administration. The Waterkloof saga and subsequent evidence before the Zondo Commission has in many ways answered this. It is now time to see action against the Guptas.”