South Africans owe former finance ministers Pravin Gordhan, Nhlanhla Nene and certain officials from National Treasury a debt of gratitude, for diligently guarding the country’s purse from Gupta influences.
The fourth instalment of the State Capture report, which was released on Friday morning, found that former president Jacob Zuma was “determined” to give the Gupta family unfettered access to the country’s coffers.
While Zuma had managed to successfully dismantle state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Denel, the buck stopped at Treasury.
The report reads: “The fact that the Guptas and President Zuma failed to capture our National Treasury even after relentless attempts to do so over a long period of time, is due largely to the Ministers of Finance that South Africa had during those years, namely Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Minister Pravin Gordhan, the men and women at National Treasury, including Mr Fuzile who was the Director-General and his team of senior officials who, in the interest of the country, put up serious resistance to President Zuma’s and the Guptas’ attempts. The country should be grateful to all of them.”
Zuma and Gordhan, who share a long history in the ANC’s military wing and even a birthday, eventually fell out due to Gordhan’s steadfastness to guard Treasury from the Gupta family.
The report described Zuma’s insistence to replace Gordhan with former Eskom CEO and Gupta lackey Brian Molefe, as “astonishing”.
“How could a President want to put such a person in charge of the country’s finances? There are no words to describe this conduct on President Zuma’s part except to say that he must have been determined to give the Guptas direct access to the nation’s Treasury to hand the control of our National Treasury to the Guptas before he left office,” said Zondo in the report.
Zuma went as far as conjuring up a badly compiled “intelligence report” that accused Gordhan and then deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas of lobbying international agencies against the SA government and Treasury.
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While most of the report serves as a scathing indictment of the ANC’s governance, it does, however, give the party’s top five at the time, credit for stopping Zuma from appointing Molefe.
“Although the Top 5 of the ANC (leaving out Mr Zuma) deserve credit for stopping President Zuma from appointing Mr Brian Molefe as Minister of Finance, it is also justifiable to ask the question: why did they and the ANC Deployment Committee not stop Mr Molefe from being appointed as the Group CEO of Transnet?”
The state capture reports have traditionally been void of emotion, but in its assessment of the relentless attempts to capture Treasury, Zondo then asks:
“Was this the same man who twice stood in front of the people of South Africa and took an oath and said: ‘I, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, swear/solemnly affirm that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa…I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always —promote all that will advance the Republic and oppose all that may harm it.’
Yes, this was the same man.”
Although the ANC’s senior members thwarted Zuma’s attempts to impose Molefe on Treasury, they failed to stop another Gupta stooge, Malusi Gigaba, from being appointed to the crucial post.
The report found that had it not been for the 2017 ANC elective conference where President Cyril Ramaphosa – (then deputy president of the ANC and the country) defeated Zuma, “more damage could have been done to the National Treasury under Mr Gigaba than may have been done.”
But even though Zondo made damning findings against Zuma’s conduct and attempted coup at Treasury, there no recommendations for criminal prosecutions.
The report only recommended that the NPA consider criminally charging Tony Gupta for attempting to bribe former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas.