The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, will reportedly take office this morning at National Treasury.
The minister tried to restore confidence and calm following his shock midnight appointment.
However, there is a strong impression that President Jacob Zuma appointed the minister with the Guptas’ “stamp of approval” and that the minister is close to the Guptas.
The impression was re-enforced when the minister reportedly zig-zagged his way around hard questions about his relationship with the Guptas at his maiden press conference on the weekend.
The minister can run but he cannot hide from hard questions about his relationship with the Guptas.
That is why the minister should act in the best interests of National Treasury and issue a public statement:
- setting out all the facts including the details of every meeting, every decision, and every gift ever received from or relating to the Guptas; and
- reassuring the public that he is committed to serving the public interest rather than the private interests of the Guptas.
If the minister continues to zig-zag his way around the hard questions, he will be responsible for compromising the institutional integrity of National Treasury.
And the one thing that we simply cannot afford is for the whiff of corruption and maladministration to waft around National Treasury.
Today, I wrote to Maria Ramos, Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Group Limited, requesting a reasonable explanation for why it took Absa Bank Limited (“Absa”) 15 months, or a full 312 working days, to close the Guptas’ bank accounts in South Africa.
An affidavit, submitted by Yasmin Masithela on behalf of Absa, in the Minister of Finance versus Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd case, which is before the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division [Case No. 80978/16], reveals that it took the bank:
- 13 months, that is a full 272 working days, from the time the decision was taken to terminate the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 November 2014) to the notice of termination of the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 December 2015); and
- 15 months, that is a full 312 working days, from the time the decision was taken to terminate the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (18 November 2014) to the termination of the banker-client relationship with the Guptas’ (16 February 2016).
The affidavit provides a detailed explanation of why the Guptas’ bank accounts were closed, as well as a detailed explanation of the process followed in closing the Guptas’ bank accounts, but does not provide any explanation as to why it took so long to close the Guptas’ bank accounts.
What the delay in closing the Guptas’ bank accounts suggests is that Absa may have failed to comply with processes, procedures and controls to manage money laundering and terrorist financing risks, including its obligations in respect of “Politically Exposed Persons”, in terms of the Banks Act (No. 94 of 1990) and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (No. 38 of 2001).
In the end, the real question, in the controversy surrounding the closure of the Guptas’ bank accounts, is not why the Guptas’ bank accounts were closed, but why it took so long for the Guptas’ bank accounts to be closed, by inter alia Absa.
Answers to a series of written parliamentary questions to all 35 Ministers in the Zuma Cabinet indicate that it is not just a select few in the ANC who serve the Gupta project of State Capture, but rather the majority. Zuma’s Cabinet is now working tirelessly to enrich the connected few, while over 9 million South Africans go without a job.
I submitted parliamentary questions to each Minister asking whether he/she had met with any member, employee and/or close associate of the Gupta family and/or attended any meeting with these persons at the Gupta’s Saxonwold Estate in Johannesburg or anywhere else since taking office.
What has become quite clear from the answers provided is that the Gupta project of State Capture is an ANC project – fully endorsed and supported by the majority in the ANC. This is why Ministers are forced to dodge questions, or provide flimsy and equivocal answers to direct questions.
The written responses reveal the following:
- The Ministers of Finance, Defence, Economic Development, Energy, Home Affairs and Trade and Industry all admitted to have “attended social events where members of the Gupta family were present”;
- Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies states that he has indeed met with the Gupta family on several occasions;
- Well-known Gupta affiliates – The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des Van Rooyen, and the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane – both denied having met with members of the Gupta family despite the Public Protector’s State of Capture report providing concrete evidence to the contrary – including phone records and flight details;
- The Ministers of Environmental Affairs, Public Enterprises, Sport and Recreation, State Security and Women in the Presidency all flatly refused to give an answer to the question;
- The Minister of Energy admitted to meeting with Gupta employees Mr Nazeem Howa and Mr Moegsin Williams at various New Age breakfasts;
- The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has refused to even reply to the question, which was put to her in writing 11 months ago, in April 2016; and
- The Minister of Finance avoided answering the question as it related to his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, even though the question specifically asked about the Deputy Minister in light of his public proclamations that he was personally offered the post of Finance Minister by the Guptas in 2015;
Lying to Parliament is a serious offense, and if it transpires that any Member of Cabinet misled Parliament – to which they are Constitutionally accountable – we will take whatever action necessary.
I have also today written to the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that he ensures that the Ministers who have yet to answer, failed to answer, or answered vaguely, are made to provide sufficient answers to the question within the next 14 days.
The DA has already laid criminal charges in terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act against members of the Gupta family, with the Hawks having confirmed to be investigating this matter. We eagerly anticipate the outcome of said investigation.
It cannot be that the ANC works to enrich and promote a small elite minority of connected cadres, while millions of South Africans go without work and rely on social grants for their survival.
The DA will continue to expose the capture of state institutions by President Zuma and his gang of cronies, who loot the state for personal gain while South Africa suffers.