Power rift widens as analysts fear for ANC’s future
By John Eche
A new dimension has been added to the Guptagate scandal with maverick leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters Party, EFF, Mr. Julius Malema throwing his weight behind embattled South African Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan even as the latter has taken his long-running spat with his boss, President Jacob Zuma and the controversial Gupta clan to the courts.
In a deposition made in a South African court, Friday, Gordhan who is facing charges laid at his doorsteps by the Zuma-allied state security services has openly tendered documents exposing the fabled #Guptagate billions in court.
In the convoluted manner in which political wheels turn, the South African finance minister who remains a member of the ruling African National Congress is now finding varied support across the political spectrum after he lifted the lid on billions of rands in suspicious transactions involving the Gupta family in an affidavit submitted to the Pretoria High Court on Friday.
In its reaction, the EFF has signalled that Gordhan should be celebrated for exposing irregular dealings that point to not far off a staggering R7bn landing in Gupta-linked bank accounts. The EFF has been asking questions about the Gupta family for some time, in particular about its relationship with President Jacob Zuma and his associates.
Indeed, the latest revelations play into the EFF’s moves to grow its support base. The EFF has reminded the nation that its leader Julius Malema has been on the right track in raising the flag on the Guptas. The EFF is calling for Zuma to step down, as will others as word spreads of the breathtaking scale of the Gupta gains.
Indeed, some analysts wager that the current fiasco may only be the tip of the iceberg. Says Jackie Cameron: ‘as the #Guptagate scandal grows, it is becoming easier to imagine Zuma being ejected from his chair sooner rather than later.’
However the immediate beneficiary of the current spat may be the EFF which has since been on a sustained campaign for a probe of the relationship between the Guptas and Zuma.
In its view, with the latest revelations, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has now confirmed what EFF leader Julius Malema had claimed about the Gupta family many months ago when he pointed out that there was a corrupt relationship between it and the South African Presidency.
This much was affirmed recently by EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu who said Gordhan should be celebrated for “exposing what is really happening with the Gupta family”.
He was speaking after the party opened a criminal case against the Gupta family and their companies’ directors in Rosebank, Johannesburg, on Sunday.
A recent affidavit by Gordhan revealed “suspicious” transactions.
“When the Commander in Chief [Malema] spoke about R6 billion more than four months ago, many people thought we are just speculating. Here is a sworn statement by a minister of finance that is tabled in a court of law confirming indeed what we are saying throughout, that the criminal syndicate that is stealing money is a reality,” Shivambu said.
Earlier this year Malema alleged that Zuma visited the United Arab Emirates to drop off R6bn belonging to the Guptas.
“Zuma was in UAE recently in Dubai. That was not an official visit, it was a personal one. Zuma took money to UAE. That is where they are dumping money. The Guptas have taken R6bn to Dubai,” Malema told reporters at a media conference at the time following the Constitutional Court judgment.
Shivambu said Gordhan’s revelation was well-timed. He said Gordhan had been consistent in dealing with questions relating to the Guptas.
“The minister of finance has been very consistent in how he dealt with the question of the Guptas’ harassment, that he must make interventions on their relationship with the banks. Even when we asked him a question in parliament, he said he doesn’t see anything in legislation that compels him to act on behalf of the Guptas against the banks.
“When they kept on harassing him he said: ‘Let me go to court’ for [a] declaratory order that will stop them from harassing him. It’s a correct moment. It’s the right thing to do,” Shivambu said.
Gordhan on Friday launched an application in the High Court in Pretoria, the latest development in the ongoing drama around the Gupta family and their alleged abuse of state resources.
Gordhan wants the court to declare that, as finance minister, he is in no way obligated to help the Guptas in their battle with South Africa’s largest banks, all of whom had terminated their banking relationships with the family and their companies earlier this year.
His affidavit contained 72 transactions worth R6.8bn that were listed as “suspicious” by the Financial Intelligence Centre because there had been “no apparent business or lawful purpose” for the transfers.
Shivambu called on South Africans to take political action against Zuma and the Guptas.
He said South Africans needed to gather in Pretoria on November 2 to demand Zuma step down.
“Let us stop the politicisation of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) which is now being desperate and using all legislation to pursue criminal charges against political opponents. All the people of South Africa must come on November 2 to also demand that free education must be given to all.”
He said money which should be directed towards free education was being stolen by the Guptas.
“We also call on the banks to co-operate in the investigations. We call on the auditing firms that used to work with the Guptas to co-operate with the investigation of the Gupta syndicate and the financial intelligence centre to fully cooperate,” he said.
The EFF opened a case against Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta and all their company directors, including the president’s son, Duduzane Zuma, whom it described as “Jacob Zuma’s proxy in Gupta businesses“.
EFF Leader, Julius Malema