The buck starts here
13 December 2017 13:09 (South Africa)
South Africa

EFF takes on #GuptaLeaks with Gigaba in the crosshairs

  • Ranjeni Munusamy
    ranjeni munusami BW
    Ranjeni Munusamy

    Ranjeni Munusamy is a survivor of the Salem witch trials and has the scars to show it. She has a substantial collection of tattered t-shirts from having “been there and done it” – from government, the Zuma trials, spin-doctoring and upsetting the applecart in South African newsrooms. Following a rather unexciting exorcism ceremony, she traded her femme-fatale gear for a Macbook and a packet of Liquorice Allsorts. Her graduation Cum Laude from the School of Hard Knocks means she knows a thing or two about telling the South African story.

  • South Africa
Photo: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader Julius Malema arrives with supporters for a demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016. Picture taken November 2, 2016.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File photo

Why did Malusi Gigaba, when he was Minister of Public Enterprises, tell Denel to continue with the procurement of locomotives, even though it was illegal to do so, and instructed the state-owned company not to communicate with the National Treasury? A letter from Gigaba dated December 7, 2012 was released to the media by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on Thursday as part of a dossier on a dodgy Transnet locomotives tender. This is part of a labyrinth of allegations related to the Guptas’ capture of the state that is in the public domain but not under investigation. EFF leader Julius Malema has now outlined a multipronged approach to take on the state capture network. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

As information about the Guptas’ grip on the state and their control of government leaders continues to flood out of the tranche of leaked emails, the ANC appears to be like a deer in the headlights. Last week, the ANC issued a 145-word statement saying the leaked emails “contain very worrying claims about the nature of the relationship between government and private interests”.

The ANC views these allegations in a very serious light as if left unattended, they call into question the integrity and credibility of the government and the use of state resources under the direction of or to the benefit of private interests. Such matters cannot be allowed to fester in the public domain. Accordingly, the African National Congress calls on government to urgently seek to establish the veracity of these claims and explanation from those implicated.”

The ANC also reiterated the call for a judicial commission of inquiry into the allegations of state capture “without delay”.

This statement has exposed that the ANC is unable to come up with a coherent response to the avalanche of incriminating information stacked against its leaders, including President Jacob Zuma. Neither is it able to get any explanation from its deployees in government about their involvement with the Guptas. All the ANC could do is “call” on its own government to “establish the veracity” of the claims and get an explanation from those implicated.

A more benign response would be hard to find.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen on Thursday distributed a draft resolution to all parties on the establishment of an ad hoc committee on state capture. He said a request for the matter to be placed on the Order Paper as a matter of urgency was forwarded to Speaker Baleka Mbete’s office on May 29. Steenhuisen said the ad hoc committee should be empowered to call Zuma and the Guptas to give testimony.

South Africans are punch-drunk by the seemingly endless revelations about state capture and the astonishing influence the Gupta family wields over President Jacob Zuma and members of his executive. I believe there is broad consensus that a thorough investigation into these allegations is long overdue and submit that Parliament is best placed to undertake it,” Steenhuisen said.

The option of undertaking a parliamentary ad hoc committee is a way to circumvent the power in the president’s hands to delay the inquiry into state capture and eventually appointing a sympathetic judge to head the commission. The testimony of former FBI director James Comey before a Senate panel in the United States on Thursday showed the effectiveness of an open public process in airing information that the administration tries to keep buried.

But both a parliamentary process and a judicial commission of inquiry cannot be substitutes for criminal investigation and prosecution where corruption is evident and billions of rands are swindled from the fiscus.

Enter Julius Malema.

The EFF leader has been abnormally quiet in the past few weeks – apart from a few cryptic tweets indicating that he still had a hotline of information coming to him. In a radio interview with Tbo Touch on Wednesday, Malema said the reason for his silence was because “the ruling party is engaged in a programme of self-destruction. As they self-destruct‚ you don’t have to disturb them.”

On Thursday, Malema dived into the fray wielding a 27-page dossier at an EFF media briefing showing the steep inflation of prices in the procurement of locomotives by Transnet – following the intervention of Gupta-linked companies Trillian and Regiments Capital in the process.

The matter was reported by amaBhungane and Scorpio in Daily Maverick as part of a deluge of damning revelations stemming from the leak of hundreds of thousands of emails from the Gupta network. The amaBhungane-Scorpio story suggested that the Guptas and their associates scored about R5.3-billion in kickbacks from the locomotives contract.

According to Malema the price of the 1,064 locomotives was escalated by about R17.4-billion from the original bids made by Chinese, Canadian and American companies who won the tender. He said the evidence of irregularities and corruption in the tender process was handed to the EFF by whistle-blowers in Transnet.

In the dossier is a picture of a letter dated December 7, 2012 from Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to the Denel chairperson Zoli Kunene. At the time, Gigaba was Minister of Public Enterprises. He tells Kunene that the exemption granted under the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) expired that day, thus rendering various procurement activities by state-owned companies (SOC) illegal.

Gigaba informs Kunene that he would be “personally engaging with the Minister of Finance (at the time Pravin Gordhan) to resolve these issues.

In the meantime, the SOC should continue to procure as if the extension to the exemption is in place. In addition, no communication should take place between the SOC and National Treasury pertaining to the PPPFA until the situation has been resolved. Should any queries be directed to the SOC from the National Treasury regarding the PPPFA, please refer the National Treasury to my office,” the letter reads.

If the letter is genuine, it means that Gigaba essentially instructed that the procurement should go ahead even though it was illegal and tried to stonewall the Treasury in the process. It is not clear why he was writing to the state arms manufacturer Denel about the procurement of the locomotives fleet by Transnet.

Malema says this is evidence of Gigaba’s “captured mindset” and claimed the minister was “at the centre of stealing money from the people”. He named Brian Molefe‚ Anoj Singh‚ Iqbal Sharma and Garry Pita as also being involved in the scheme to inflate the price of the locomotives. On Friday Malema will be laying corruption charges at the Johannesburg Central Police Station against Gigaba and others implicated, as well as the Transnet board that presided over the tender.

The EFF leader has called on the losing bidders to join his party’s action to interdict the process. They will also be reporting Regiments Capital, Trillian, Gigaba and Gupta associate Salim Essa to the Financial Services Board.

Malema said the EFF would be writing to the Chinese, Canadian, American and Chinese governments to inform them of the alleged corruption in the contract and ask them to prosecute the companies involved. The party will also write to the World Bank to report the alleged corrupt companies. He said the EFF was going this route because it did not have faith in the police and National Prosecuting Authority to pursue criminal investigations.

Regarding the commission of inquiry, Malema said they would be writing to Zuma requesting that he withdraw his review application of the Public Protector’s report on state capture. He said the scheduled date for the matter to be heard in court in October was “too far” and that if Zuma refused to withdraw the review application, they would approach the judge president to ask that that the date be moved up.

Malema said the EFF was in possession of the leaked Gupta emails and these were being examined by the party officials to draw linkages to the ministers involved. He said a dossier would be compiled for Parliament to provide the basis for the impeachment of ministers who were implicated.

We believe that at the core of the emails and Gupta Leaks is evidence that those who run government today have betrayed their country and facilitated a coup by handing over constitutional decision-making powers to a foreign family. In a normal democracy this unpatriotic betrayal is tantamount or even worse than treason,” said Malema.

He said the numerous court actions pursued by the EFF came at great cost and that taking up these matters also put their lives at risk.

All this that we are doing, risking our lives and the lives of our families, is to prevent South Africa from becoming a failed state. We love this country.”

He said South Africans should be conscious and stand up against the capture of the state. “We want a mass-led type of process. Every individual in South Africa should say not in my name,” said Malema. “I do not understand why there has not been an occupation of Guptas’ house.”

Malema said he did not believe that the actions undertaken by the EFF to challenge Zuma were not going anywhere. He said his party was initially on its own in taking on Zuma but had been joined by other opposition parties. He said the fact that Cosatu, the South African Communist Party, the Umkhonto we Sizwe Council and ANC stalwarts had all come out to pronounce against Zuma and called on him to step down was “a good sign”.

The EFF leader said it would take “hard work” to remove Zuma and dislodge the ANC in 2019.

South Africa has been stolen right in front of our eyes. Any person who votes for the ANC knowing about these criminal activities will also be making themselves accomplices in the crime of high treason being committed by Zuma and his gang of criminals.

We urge all patriotic South Africans to support this call by the EFF by any lawful means necessary including taking to the streets.”

As Malema was making these statements, ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe was speaking at the National Union of Mineworkers conference explaining why Zuma could not be removed until he was no longer ANC president. He also said attempts to remove Zuma from office would split the ANC. He said this was the rationale for the ANC national executive committee deciding against recalling Zuma.

Later in the day, Zuma was addressing a credentials ceremony for new diplomatic representatives to South Africa, seemingly untroubled by the commotion and mounting allegations against him.

The pressure on multiple fronts from opposition parties, the ANC’s alliance partners and civil society is bound to explode at some point. Until then, Zuma and the Guptas remain in power and continue to reap the benefits of a captured state.

The leaked emails provide sufficient evidence to target those directly implicated in corruption. The EFF seems to think that aiming for Gigaba will have a domino effect in blowing open the network. If Gigaba was a wilful participant in state capture, he ought to be afraid. There are not many things worse than having Julius Malema on your case. DM

Photo: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party leader Julius Malema arrives with supporters for a demonstration in Pretoria, South Africa, November 2, 2016. Picture taken November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/File photo

  • Ranjeni Munusamy
    ranjeni munusami BW
    Ranjeni Munusamy

    Ranjeni Munusamy is a survivor of the Salem witch trials and has the scars to show it. She has a substantial collection of tattered t-shirts from having “been there and done it” – from government, the Zuma trials, spin-doctoring and upsetting the applecart in South African newsrooms. Following a rather unexciting exorcism ceremony, she traded her femme-fatale gear for a Macbook and a packet of Liquorice Allsorts. Her graduation Cum Laude from the School of Hard Knocks means she knows a thing or two about telling the South African story.

  • South Africa

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