News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
28 Mar 2017
12:36 pm

Court bars Zuma’s bid to join Gupta-Gordhan banks case

Ilse de Lange

The High Court in Pretoria has told President Jacob Zuma’s legal representatives that he cannot be added as an 'interested party'.

President Jacob Zuma. (Photo by Gallo Images / Thapelo Maphakela)

A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that President Jacob Zuma could not intervene in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s court application against the Guptas because he was not a party to the application.

President Zuma on Monday filed an affidavit asking the court to strike out an application by Standard Bank aimed at stopping any interference by President Zuma or any members of Cabinet in their business dealings with Gupta parent company Oakbay Investments or any of its subsidiaries. Judge President Dunstan Mlambo said there was no basis for the court to consider the President’s request as he was not cited as a party in the proceedings.

The Judges granted an order to Oakbay, striking out any reference in court papers to a Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report about 72 “suspicious” transactions by the Gupta companies. Counsel for Gordhan, Jeremy Gauntlett told the court the Minister was not asking the court to drawn any inferences from the report or to find any wrongdoing, but was merely asking the court to note that there was such a report to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation he was facing.

Gordhan has asked the court for an order that he had no authority to interfere in a decision by the country’s four major banks to close the Gupta companies’ bank accounts. The Guptas conceded that the Minister had no such authority and in court papers accused him of persisting with his application because he had ulterior political motives.

Judge Mlambo granted an order to Gordhan, striking out any reference in the Oakbay papers to the Minister being a “weak kneed politician” too afraid to make important decisions and an alleged conspiracy between Gordhan and the banks to “sink” the Guptas.

The court dismissed argument by one of the Gupta companies, Sahara Computers, that the State Attorney did not have the authority to act on behalf of Gordhan and that Gordhan should therefore personally pay the legal costs of the application.