President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday told the Commission of Inquiry into state capture that he stayed in his position under Jacob Zuma to push back against corruption from within.
The president said when the Gupta leaks exposed the extent of the graft he considered various options regarding his position.
Ramaphosa said he also disagreed with his then-boss, Zuma, over the dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and considered quitting.
He said he conveyed his thoughts of resigning to African National Congress (ANC) deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, who most likely informed Zuma.
The president was giving evidence before acting chief justice, Raymond Zondo, in his capacity as deputy president.
Ramaphosa also used his opening remarks to refute allegations levelled against him by former Eskom executives Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko.
After Eskom refused to renegotiate the price upwards for coal, Glencore surrendered its Optimum Coal Mine to Tegeta, a company owned by the Gupta family.
Eskom then authorised a R1.68 billion pre-purchase payment to the Gupta-owned company.
The complicated transaction left Eskom with a bill of R8 billion that was to be paid to Glencore.
Molefe told the commission that Ramaphosa was the chair of the Glencore board, which may have influenced how Eskom was being “extorted”.
Ramophosa said at some stage he did own 9.42 shares at Optimum, which was owned by Glencore.
However, he said when he was appointed deputy president of the ANC he relinquished all his roles in business.
“My acquisition of shares in Optimum Holdings was a straightforward commercial transaction, done in accordance with regulations of the JSE,” said Ramaphosa.
He said as non-executive chairperson of Optimum Holdings, he was “not involved in operational matters of subsidiary companies, including contractual matters between, for instance, Eskom and Optimum”.
By the time Zuma appointed him to oversee matters at Eskom, Ramaphosa said he no longer had an interest in Optimum or Glencore.
“I had disposed of my shareholding in Optimum Holdings and had no other business interests in mining or energy,” said Ramaphosa.
Koko claimed Ramaphosa had illegally influenced his dismissal from Eskom – something the president said was an incorrect understanding of the government’s oversight role at the state-owned power utility.
Ramaphosa denies any prior knowledge or role in the removal of Koko and other executives from Eskom.
The president continues with his evidence.