Tag: zuma

Did the banks collude with the Guptas?

Source: The Citizen 

The EFF has criticised South Africa’s major banks, calling them opportunistic and hypocritical “in their testimony given to the state capture inquiry”.

Standard Bank’s retired head of legal testified at the inquiry on Monday giving reasons that led the bank deciding to close the business accounts of the controversial Gupta family.

Former FirstRand Group – which First National Bank (FNB) is a division of – chief executive officer (CEO) Johan Burger is testifying at the commission today.

“These banks were very happy to do business with the Guptas until the unceremonious December 2015 removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister when South African stocks were severely devalued,” the EFF said in a statement.

The red berets added that by the time of Nene’s axing, the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma – who are commonly referred to as the Zuptas – were already carrying out corrupt activities “facilitated by the very same banks”.

The EFF said: “It is impossible that the banks only started to notice the suspicious transactions of the Guptas and their companies in 2016 as they now want us to believe.

“The truth is that these banks colluded in the looting of the country for as long as it was feeding into their profit maximisation motives and greed. These are the only driving forces behind the commercial banks. For them, it’s profit before people and the country.”

The party said it hopes the chair of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would not be fooled by the testimony of the banks.

“We call on the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) and the Financial Intelligence Centre to launch a separate probe into the complicity of South African banks in the Gupta state capture and why they turned a blind eye towards an obviously suspicious transactions before 2016 and to hold them accountable for their part in state capture,” the EFF said.

The party added that if the Sarb fails to institute such a probe the party would take it upon itself to initiate a parliamentary probe into the matter.

Meanwhile, Burger testified on Tuesday that FNB had closed the accounts of the Guptas due to associated reputational and business risks.

Former President Jacob Zuma spent R15.3-million in his battle to avoid prosecution – all funded by the taxpayer.

President Cyril Ramaphosa disclosed this information to the Democratic Alliance on Tuesday‚ in a bid to settle legal action bought by the party over Zuma’s refusal to disclose his legal fees in the so-called Spy Tapes case.

The State Attorney indicated that Ramaphosa intends to disclose this information in Parliament on Wednesday‚ in response to questions from EFF leader Julius Malema.

Malema also wants to know “on what legal provision(s) or policy did the State rely when using state resources to fund the former President’s legal costs?”

Zuma steadfastly avoided answering DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s questions about how much his so-called Stalingrad campaign has cost taxpayers.

And that may be because he has agreed to pay back the money if he’s convicted.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Tyrone Seale last week told Financial Mail that the state would continue to fund Zuma’s legal fees if he went on trial for corruption‚ on the basis of an undertaking that was concluded between Zuma and then president Thabo Mbeki in 2006.

“The former President signed an undertaking to refund the state if he is found to have acted in his personal capacity and own interest in the commission of offences with which he was charged.”

It remains unclear whether these costs will include the money spent by Zuma in avoiding prosecution.

Maimane told TimesLIVE on Tuesday evening that the DA would ensure the money was paid back.

“We want to claim it back and we want to ensure that Zuma is personally liable. We will do an analysis of how the determination went,” he said.

By Karyn Maughan for Times Live

Even before being elected as South Africa’s new president, Cyril Ramaphosa was a people person, joining some for walks, and then jogging along Sea Point promenade. He is clearly liked, but for how long will that honeymoon last?

Coming after the extended period of uncertainty in South Africa resulting from Jacob Zuma’s reluctance to resign, Cyril Ramaphosa’s first State of the Nation address restored dignity and decorum to Parliament, and pressed all the right buttons.

He was gracious to all (even giving thanks to Zuma for facilitating what the ANC has termed “the transition”), before launching into the delivery of a peroration which proclaimed the breaking of a new dawn. South Africa’s “moment of hope”, which was to be founded on the legacy of Nelson Mandela, had returned.

Ramaphosa combined extensive tribute to the heroes of the ANC’s liberation Struggle with the gospel of social inclusion according to the holy writ of the Freedom Charter. This was time to move beyond the recent period of discord, disunity and disillusionment.

The speech was delivered with panache and confidence. It had style, declaring to the nation and the world that he, Cyril Ramaphosa, was in charge.

But along with the style, there was the solid substance. The overall impression was that Ramaphosa intends to impose a new coherence and efficiency on government. Although acknowledging the calamity of the dismally low rate of economic growth, he was upbeat about the future, about the reviving fortunes of the commodities market, and the upturn in the markets.

Deservedly, Ramaphosa was to be allowed to enjoy the applause, as opposition members rose to their feet alongside the ANC MPs to give him a standing ovation which went far beyond ceremonial ritual. After the disaster of Zuma, it would seem to have given a massive fillip to South African pride and confidence.

It also gave the opposition parties a problem. With Zuma gone and a credible ANC president in place, they are facing an uphill electoral battle.

The new president committed to ensuring ethical behaviour and leadership, and to a refusal to tolerate the plunder of resources by public employees or theft and exploitation by private businesses. Critically, this would entail a transformation in the way that state-owned enterprises such as the power utility Eskom would be run.

There would be a new beginning at state-owned enterprises. They would no longer be allowed to borrow their way out of their financial difficulties. Competent people would be appointed to their boards, and there would be an appropriate distancing of their strategic role from operational management. And board members would be barred from any involvement in procurement.

This would all be part and parcel of a much wider reconfiguration of government, presumably a code for the reduction in the number of departments and a reduction in the size of ministerial ranks.

Ramaphosa also committed to hands-on government, promising he would be visiting each department over the forthcoming year.

The forging of a social compact between government, business and labour would define the new era. A part of it would come from a new presidential economic advisory council. There would be summits for jobs and investment; convening of a youth working group to promote youth enterprise and employment and a summit for the social sector to forge a new consensus with NGOs and civil society.

This would add up to the construction of a “capable state” to foster much needed economic recovery. There would be concerted efforts to promote and aid small and medium business and revive manufacturing. Stress was laid on the importance of arriving at consensus around a mining charter, a document designed to guide transformation in this industry.

Due reference was made to preparing South Africa to embrace the fourth and fifth industrial revolutions and the encouragement of scientific innovation and new technology. And there was an explicit undertaking from Ramaphosa that he would take personal responsibility to ensure social grants be paid. And “no individual person in government” would be allowed to obstruct social grants delivery, a brutal, albeit indirect, put-down of the minister concerned.

The one aspect of the speech which would have raised eyebrows among the Davos crowd was Ramaphosa’s re-iteration of the ANC government’s commitment to the expropriation of land without compensation as part of radical economic transformation. This highlighted the ANC’s proposed change to the constitution adopted at its recent national conference.

But that commitment was also fudged by linking any expropriation to ensuring agricultural production and food security. Cynics may argue that this was simply a form of words. In the context of Ramaphosa’s general investment seeking demeanour, agricultural capital and international business are unlikely to be unduly alarmed. But if they are wise, they will take it as a warning to come to the party of “social transformation”.

Ramaphosa has played a long game since he was passed over for president in the mid-’90s in favour of Thabo Mbeki. After playing a key role in crafting the constitution, he left politics, made a lot of money by spearheading the first round of black economic empowerment, and then returned to politics to play what must at times have been a mortifying role as deputy president under Zuma.

He suffered a great deal of criticism for being complicit in the Zuma-era corruption because of his silence – silence he would have reckoned was necessary to secure his rise to the top.

Clearly, Ramaphosa is not above criticism. He is no saint. He lives in the shadow of the massacre of miners at Marikana. Only towards the end of the ANC leadership race did he let fly against corruption and state capture.

Yet it could so easily have been so different. What would the mood have been now if Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma had won the ANC leadership?

Few would have been convinced that she would have been able or willing to leave the legacy of the corruption of the Zuma years behind. In contrast, although there is extensive acknowledgement that Ramaphosa will meet considerable opposition from within the ANC patronage machine if he is to realise his ambitions, he has indeed provided hope.

Yet the irony is that we need to pay due deference to David Mabuza, premier of the province of Mpumalanga.

If it had not been for his last moment tactic of throwing his provincial delegates’ votes behind Ramaphosa at the ANC conference to thwart a Dlamini Zuma victory at the ANC national conference, South Africa would be having to face a very different future.

In true ANC style, the irony is that the moment of hope was facilitated by someone who has been portrayed, even from within the party, as a political hoodlum.

By Roger Southall for The Conversation, published on IOL

Update: President Jacob Zuma resigned with immediate effect on Wednesday evening, one hour before his deadline was up.  There is, however, still the matter of making official the appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as the president of the republic.

Although the ANC has recalled President Jacob Zuma, it was still insisting on Tuesday that he had done nothing wrong.

Speaker after speaker at Monday night’s special national executive committee (NEC) meeting said Zuma should go for a range of reasons, central to which was the ANC’s electoral performance and the effect that his remaining head of state could have on the party.

On Tuesday, the net continued to tighten around Zuma.

The ANC said it was waiting for his response on Wednesday. Should he refuse to resign, the ANC said it would be forced to remove him in Parliament.

Zuma is expected to address the nation on Wednesday. The Presidency could, however, not be reached to confirm this.

As the ANC notified him formally of its decision to recall him, National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams gave the prosecution team dealing with Zuma’s corruption, fraud and racketeering charges until February 23 to provide their recommendations. This was after Zuma made fresh representations in January on why he should not be prosecuted. If Zuma declines the ANC offer to let him resign it will pave the way for his removal through a motion of no confidence.

In the past eight motions of no confidence against him, the ANC stuck to the party line that he should not be removed. It was only in the last motion that some of the party’s MPs voted differently in a secret ballot vote.

The party line this time will be that Zuma must go.

Business Day understands that the NEC has given the ANC caucus in the National Assembly the task of devising a strategy for his removal should he refuse to heed the recall.

The ANC chief whip has been instructed to brief the caucus, which is expected to meet on Wednesday morning while the ANC awaits a “response” from Zuma on the unanimous NEC decision to recall him. A cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

While ANC secretary- general Ace Magashule told journalists that there was no decision on a motion of no confidence in Parliament, it is understood that the NEC agreed that should Zuma fail to resign Parliamentary processes would kick in.

Immediately after the ANC’s briefing, the rand weakened from R11.92 to the dollar to R11.98. Analysts said there was concern in the market that Zuma had not been given a deadline by which to resign. At 6.30pm on Tuesday, the rand firmed marginally against the dollar, to R11.96. Before Magashule’s announcement it had reached a best intraday level of R11.87.

According to sources who took part in the NEC meeting, which started at 2pm on Monday afternoon and dragged on into the early hours of Tuesday, the possibility of court action against the recall was also raised. This emerged amid reports that Transform SA — a Zuma-aligned lobby group — had launched a legal bid to challenge the outcome of the NEC meeting.

According to senior ANC leaders, Zuma was “very angry” and may not resign voluntarily.

Magashule confirmed that the NEC had rejected Zuma’s request for a further three months in office to “introduce” incoming president Cyril Ramaphosa to international bodies such as Brics and the Southern African Development Community. It is understood that even those who were seen to be staunch supporters of Zuma’s have indicated that it is time for him to go.

Zuma’s preferred candidate for the presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while diplomatic about the matter, indicated at the NEC meeting that Zuma could not see his term out or deliver the state of the nation address.

When asked for the NEC’s reasons for recalling Zuma and whether it related to allegations of state capture, Magashule was emphatic, saying the president had not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.

Magashule said the reason for the recalled was that the party wanted Ramaphosa in the position of president and for him to deliver the state of the nation address. Magashule said that when a deployee of the ANC was recalled the party expected that person to comply.

For now, the ANC was giving Zuma “time and space”.

Magashule said Zuma was a “disciplined member” and he believed that the president would make the right decision, but again pleaded for time.

“The national executive committee firmly believes that this situation requires us to act with urgency in order to steer our country towards greater levels of unity, renewal and hope.

“We are determined to restore the integrity of the public institutions, create political stability and urgent economic recovery,” Magashule said.

By Natasha Marrian and Genevieve Quintal for Business Live

We have been here before: glued to our screens on the promise that Jacob Zuma is about to lose his job. Time and time again, he survives, and we’re left to rue our premature excitement. SONA 2018 may have just changed all that.

President Jacob Zuma could well be on the cusp of a recall. When you think about all his previous scandals, then it becomes apparent this is an incredibly tight spot for the President.

Does no SONA mean no Zuma?
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete stood on the steps of Parliament, and delivered a damaging announcement to Zuma’s bid for survival. Mbete revealed that the threat of disruptions led to her writing to the President asking him to postpone.

At the same time, Mbete said they were informed that President Zuma was already in the process of writing to her to request a postponement.

It seems today like the ANC are finally putting the final nail in the coffin of Count Zuma. Yes, he’s risen from the dead before – staying in a job against improbable odds – but now it seems his political career is six feet under. This judgement on SONA 2018 is something not even the Teflon one can recover from.

Will Jacob Zuma lose his job on Wednesday 7 February?

The ANC NEC cancelled a long-awaited and historic meeting that was to be held-today, in which the future of the President was to be discussed. Don’t be fooled by all the diplomatic language, here. They want Zuma out, and are pushing harder than ever before.

If Jacob Zuma had any long term future with as a leader, he needed to deliver SONA. It would have been a defiant statement of staying power, and a bruising PR defeat for Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to revitalise the ANC.

Will he resign?
Despite the very public lack of support from him in the government’s hierarchy, it is our view he still won’t go of his own accord. And the only way out from here will be a recall, which looks set to be confirmed this week.

In Mbete’s Cape Town Address, she effectively condemned JZ to the politcal wilderness. The Speaker seemingly suggested that SONA cannot happen whilst Zuma is the Head of State:

“The postponement will be no longer than one week. We need to consider the mood of the country, and only go ahead when we know we’ll have a very productive SONA.”

“We have been meeting with ANC stakeholders and participants since last Monday. We aren’t just looking at logistics, we’re listening to our political voices. We are continuing to interact with Cyril Ramaphosa on this, for when we talk about Parliament, we talk to this office.”

When will SONA 2018 take place?
Interestingly, Mbete said she’d expect to see SONA take place next week. So it would seem she feels Zuma hasn’t much, if any, time left. ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu also stuck the knife in, saying that the party “welcomes the decision made in Parliament”. He wouldn’t be drawn on when Zuma would face recall, though.

If this is Zexit eve, then it looks like he’s going down fighting. The certain indignity of a recall may just be the most fitting end to a Presidency swamped with problems.

By Tom Head for The South African 

Zuma must go before SONA

The ANC’s national working committee (NWC) has instructed the party’s top 6 officials to tell President Jacob Zuma to step down, sources have told News24.

The party’s NWC held its first meeting on Monday, since being elected two weeks ago.

News24 understands that some members of the NWC want Zuma to resign before the State of the Nation Address, which will take place in two weeks’ time.

Officials are expected to meet with Zuma as early as this week to inform him of the party’s decision.

“The NWC decided that the officials must tell him to resign and they are working to ensure that it happens before SONA,” one NWC member told News24.

Another source said there was a call in the meeting for an emergency national executive committee (NEC) meeting if the officials failed to “confront” Zuma about his resignation.

Zuma’s job as head of state has been in the balance since Cyril Ramaphosa won the hotly contested election for ANC president in December, with some of his supporters calling for Zuma’s immediate recall.

Senior party members are worried about the impact his protracted stay will have on the ANC’s performance in the 2019 general elections.

Despite NEC members telling News24 that there was a decision to remove Zuma as head of state, the party’s secretary general denied this during a post-NEC media briefing.

Over the weekend, Ace Magashule, speaking at an ANC Youth League event in KwaZulu-Natal, said there was no decision for Zuma to resign, and “it is only factional leaders who want to be populist”.

His deputy Jessie Duarte told City Press that Zuma would stay in office until the end of his term in 2019. This was in sharp contrast to Ramaphosa’s comments to international media indicating that there were talks on Zuma’s departure.

By Tshidi Madia and Mahlatse Mahlase for News24

The rand eased in early trade on Tuesday, relinquishing some of the gains it notched up in a previous session on news that the ruling political party, the ANC was deciding whether to cut short president Jacob Zuma’s tenure as head of state.

According to a report by Reuters, the currency is expected to trade in the range of R12.00 to R12.25 on Wednesday, after it eased off its highs against the dollar during European trade on Monday.
The currency is tracking a wave of positive sentiment following the appointment of deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, as ANC leader in December, while the ruling party’s top leadership has also decided that Zuma must leave office, with speculation about the timing.

Ramaphosa is expected to adopt more business-friendly policies, even though he enjoys the support of the communist party and the biggest labor union federation. His election as ANC leader helped boost the rand 10% last month.

At 09h55 on Tuesday, the rand softened against the dollar, but firmed against the pound and the euro:
• Dollar/Rand: R12.09 0.33%
• Pound/Rand: R16.90 -0.13%
• Euro/Rand: R14.83 -1.43%

A report by The Guardian late on Monday reiterated that plans are in place to oust Zuma within the next two weeks, despite comments from secretary general Ace Magashule that NEC had not yet made a decision on the future of the current president.

Investec Bank economist Annabel Bishop said in a note at the start of the week that the rand could strengthen to as much as R11 to the dollar, should the president be forced to step down.
Further strengthening would also cause fuel price cuts and place downward pressure on inflation, with the possibility of the rand moving towards R10 to the dollar should Ramaphosa continue to make reforms and promote growth, she said.

Bloomberg market analyst Robert Brand also remained positive on the currency, stating that it was possible for Ramaphosa to continue the rally by continuing to clamp down on corrupt state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, and possibly even move away from some of the ANC’s more populist ideas (such as land reform) so as to encourage continued foreign investment.

Source: BusinessTech

President Jacob Zuma will face a fresh bid to force him from office when the ANC’s top leadership meets this week for the first time since he relinquished control of the party to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.

A proposal to order Zuma to step down before his term ends in 2019 will be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee in East London, according to three members of the panel who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Zuma’s scandal-tainted tenure has eroded support for the ANC.

The NEC’s 86 voting members are divided into two loose factions – one that backed Ramaphosa, 65, to take over as party leader at the ANC’s national conference last month and another that’s allied to Zuma and favoured his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed him.

Ramaphosa won the contest with just 52% of the vote, giving him a tenuous hold over the party, and it remains unclear where exactly the balance of power lies within the panel, which usually takes decisions by consensus.

“Given Cyril Ramaphosa’s emphasis on renewing the ANC, doing things afresh, it makes all the sense that the matter should be a priority agenda issue,” Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political science professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone.

“If it is raised and the motion is defeated, then that is a serious worry. It would be indicative that he does not have everyone behind him. It would make him a very weak president.”

Graft charges

The ANC’s former head of intelligence, Zuma, 75, took office in May 2009 just weeks after prosecutors dropped graft charges against him.

He’s spent years fighting a bid by opposition parties to have those charges reinstated and fending off allegations that he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence Cabinet appointments and the award of state contracts.

Euphoria following Ramaphosa’s election as ANC leader helped boost the rand 11% last month, the most among the world’s major currencies. The rand declined 0.9% to 12.4318/$ at 16:06 on Monday, as analysts at Rabobank and JPMorgan Chase said the currency has rallied too far.

Corruption clampdown

Ramaphosa said the ANC, which marked the 106th anniversary of its founding on Monday, needed to lead by example and that its leaders needed to serve with humility, modesty and commitment.

“We will adopt a value system to root out corruption within our ranks,” he said at a wreath-laying ceremony at Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal. “Corruption undermines the interest of our people as a whole.”

While unsuccessful bids to oust Zuma were made at NEC meetings in November 2016 and March last year, a number of its members have changed since the elective conference in December. His second and final term is due to end around mid-2019.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the NEC meeting agenda had yet to be determined, but the issue of Zuma’s early departure could be raised. “There are no no-go areas in that meeting,” Kodwa said by phone.

Darias Jonker, an Africa analyst at risk-advisory firm Eurasia Group, expects Zuma’s ouster to be delayed until the second quarter of the year even though his continued presence in office may hamper the ANC as it gears up to contest elections in 2019.

“Ramaphosa must still tolerate Zuma allies in the NEC and minimise tensions within the party by not appearing to have a personal agenda against Zuma,” Jonker said.

“Zuma loyalists, such as newly elected Secretary General Ace Magashule, remain in key party positions.”

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo says none of the grounds of review of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report have any merit and President Jacob Zuma is not entitled to the review he seeks.

Zuma had applied to the High Court for the State of Capture report to be reviewed and set aside.

Mlambo says the president was ill-advised and reckless to launch this review, adding that his court challenges had delayed resolution of state capture allegations.

Earlier on Wednesday found that the Public Protector does have the power to instruct the president to exercise executive authority.

This means the remedial action instructing Zuma to appoint a state capture commission of enquiry – led by a judge appointed by the chief justice – was lawful.

The court further held that the Public Protector’s powers are wide.

It also ruled that Zuma will have to foot the legal bill for trying to halt the state capture report.

Zuma has been dealt a second legal blow with the High Court dismissing his application to set aside the public protector’s state of capture remedial action.

The president has also been ordered to establish a commission of enquiry led by a judge chosen by the chief justice within 30 days.

The full bench in Pretoria rejected every ground of Zuma’s argument for review.

He was also ordered to personally pick up the costs of this application as he was ordered to pay the costs of an earlier application which was dismissed on Wednesday.

In the nearly two-hour judgment, Mlambo rejected each and every one of President Zuma’s grounds of review.

“None of the grounds of review has any merits and the president is not entitled to the relief that he seeks. The remedial action taken by the Public Protector is lawful, appropriate and reasonable and rational.”

He says Zuma’s statement to Parliament that he intended to establish a Commission of Enquiry undermined any basis to challenge the remedial action.

“The review application was a clear nonstarter and the president was seriously reckless in pursuing it as he has done. His conduct falls far short of the high standard expressed in Section 195 of the Constitution.”

The president has been ordered to establish the commission of enquiry, and fully support the judge appointed by the chief justice.

Rule of law upheld

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has given her first reaction to Wednesday’s judgment.

She says it upholds the rule of law and enforces accountability.

“The essence of this judgement is the rule of law… justice and as Judge President Mlambo said, it’s really about restating and reinforcing the rule of law.”

Madonsela was also asked about how the ANC should have responded to reports of state capture.

“I expected nothing from the governing party, given the fact that we govern through indirect democracy because of proportional representation. I believe that the governing party should’ve ensured that this matter is investigated.”

Victory of accountability

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has released a statement in response to Mlambo’s ruling.

The EFF welcomes the judgement of the North Gauteng High Court that Zuma must personally pay the legal costs in the case.

“We welcome this damning judgment as a victory of accountability because many public representatives use public resources to defend personal interests and not those of the state or the public.”

The EFF says Zuma is one individual who has used taxpayers’ money to defend personal wrongdoing.

He has engaged in expensive litigation not to defend public interest or even state interest, but a persona, the opposition party said.

“We call on Zuma to immediately comply with the directive of the court and personally pay all the costs of the litigation. He must waste no time and no single taxpayers’ cent to appeal a clear and cogent judgment.”

Read the whole State of Capture report here.

By Barry Bateman for EWN 

Treasury capture is something to fear

Pravin Gordhan’s axing as finance minister just more than six months ago was met with consternation, which was made worse by the man who replaced him.

Here was Malusi Gigaba – the man who had used his position as minister of public enterprises to lay the ground for the Gupta family to plunder Transnet, Eskom, Denel and other state-owned companies – being entrusted with running Treasury, the state’s most important ministry.

Many cried foul, arguing that the move was akin to entrusting a ravenous wolf with care of the sheep.

At the time, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema told reporters in Johannesburg that “[President Jacob] Zuma has captured Treasury, which means the Guptas have captured Treasury. He has achieved what he always wanted to achieve.”

At Gigaba’s swearing-in ceremony at the presidential guest house in Pretoria on March 31, local and foreign journalists mobbed him, demanded answers about everything from his suitability for the job to the impact his appointment would have on credit ratings.

He stunned the media with well choreographed responses. He appeared to be a man who had his job figured out.

A few days later, referring to a Save SA protest outside his office, Gigaba told his staff: “Forget all the noise outside. Do your jobs. What you see and hear will pass. Change brings with it such anxieties.”

Shortly after his appointment, rumours began swirling that Gigaba, who harbours presidential ambitions, was ready to disentangle himself from the intricate state capture network.

Many hoped he would hold off-the-record briefings with senior journalists and editors to inform them about how he would free himself from the web of Zuma’s friends, the Guptas.

One senior news executive told me this week that Gigaba’s people had arranged a meeting with him. It never took place.

Just what the doctor ordered

It is near impossible to completely capture the South African state without placing National Treasury on a leash.

This is not only because Treasury allocates each department its annual budget, but because through its public finance unit, it monitors government expenditure and reins in wayward ministers, directors-general and chief executives of state-owned entities.

Through the office of the chief procurement officer (CPO), Treasury monitors compliance with tender regulations and is able to refuse government departments permission to break the rules.

Having axed Nhlanhla Nene, Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas for their refusal to sign off on the nuclear deal (among other reasons), Zuma needed someone whose conscience had been dulled.

What better man than Gigaba?

A trusted lieutenant, and a man whose footprints – a damning report by prominent academics found – will feature prominently in the story of how the Gupta highwaymen pulled off their great South African robbery.

A desktop review of Gigaba’s six months in the Treasury reveals a terrifying picture. Cabinet’s decision to move the budget allocation process from Treasury to the presidency has nothing to do with Gigaba.

But is it just a coincidence that something which has been coming since 2015 was implemented as soon as he arrived?

When all the make believe explanations are stripped away, only one reason remains for why Zuma’s Cabinet arrived at this decision.

The reason, as one senior government executive put it, is “for anyone who wants resources for projects that cannot be motivated for in the open to use nefarious means to achieve the directing of the budget one way or the other”.

This becomes increasingly clear when we take into account the fact that the budget allocation process is handled by an interministerial committee. All ministers have an opportunity to motivate for priority projects.

If the committee influences budget allocation, why would Cabinet want it handed to a presidency with neither the technical skill nor the research capacity to do the job?

The battle for the soul of Treasury

Two weeks ago, City Press reported that Gigaba had established a parallel administration, effectively undermining Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane.

Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete denied the allegations.

But as fate would have it, minutes of a meeting City Press obtained revealed that acting CPO Willie Mathebula was undertaking a sweeping restructuring of his office without Mogajane’s knowledge.

The minutes revealed that, while Mogajane was in the dark about the proposed changes, Mathebula had already met Gigaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi to discuss the restructuring.

The proposed changes reveal something sinister underway at Treasury: that Mathebula, Gigaba and Buthelezi were concerned that the office of the CPO “was a dictator and not an enabler” and believed the office “did not consult” their counterparts in other departments.

More alarmingly, they discussed withdrawing the office’s governance, monitoring and compliance (GMC) unit’s powers to decide if departments’ requests for tender deviations and extensions were justified.

The refrain that Treasury is a dictator, a de facto government, or a stumbling block to development is not new. It is a common refrain we hear from Zumarite ministers such as Nomvula Mokonyane.

In February, the Sunday Times reported that Zuma himself had expressed frustration about Treasury’s processes.

Zuma and Mokonyane’s unhappiness stems from their repeated failure to get Treasury to approve the nuclear deal, estimated at R1 trillion, the R56bn Moloto rail development; and the R14bn Mzimvubu water projects.

Cabinet wants to appoint Chinese companies, without any bidding process, to finance and build the last two.

A Treasury report City Press reported on in April showed how the ministry put a stop to a government-to-government procurement agreement between Zuma’s administration and the Kremlin for a Russian company to finance and build nuclear power stations.

But without the GMC’s approval for projects to bypass legal tender processes, these megacontracts will never see the light of day.

It is for this reason that Mathebula, Gigaba and Buthelezi’s mission to hobble the GMC should set off alarms.

In the 18 months to June, the GMC halted more than 200 tenders amounting to more than R4 billion from being awarded through “deviations” – which include false emergencies and other excuses about single suppliers and continuity of service.

Treasury’s deviation reports do not attach values to numerous other requests for deviation which the GMC blocked during the same period.

They could easily amount to hundreds of millions of rands.

South Africans should not allow Gigaba and co to curtail the GMC’s powers.

One reason is that Eskom’s R1.6bn in questionable contracts with management consulting firm McKinsey and Gupta-front Trillian were awarded through deviations before the GMC was established.

Should Gigaba manage to neutralise it, it would be open season on tenders across government. This would be the final step in the capture of the state.

By Sipho Masondo for City Press. Published on News24

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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