SA under Gupta-controlled finance minister: EFF explains what could happen next

South Africa's shortest serving Finance Minister David van Rooyen. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
South Africa’s shortest serving Finance Minister Des van Rooyen. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan survived an attempt to eject him from his position – by making him the centre of a criminal investigation, subsequently dropped – but President Jacob Zuma looks as powerful as ever. He indicated he has no intention of stepping down amid allegations of corruption. It’s not impossible that South Africa could still see Zuma get his way in installing a Gupta-friendly replacement to Gordhan. That’s certainly the impression that opposition politicians have, judging by the comments that emerged in Parliament this week during discussion on the huge impact the decision to prosecute Gordhan on spurious grounds had on South Africa. The bond and equity markets lost R50bn while the rand weakened at the time news was leaked that Gordhan would face crime charges. The fiasco added to negative investor sentiment and also highlighted the dismal reality that corruption is rampant and and political games are being played at the expense of the country’s well-being. So, what would life in South Africa be like under someone of the ilk of Gupta-linked Des van Rooyen – who was finance minister for only a few days during Nenegate? The Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi has put much thought into the question and, after looking at the details that emerged in the Public Prosecutor’s state capture report, comes to only one conclusion: Taxpayers and pension fund members propping up the Public Investment Corporation will be tapped for a massive spending spree. This will include keeping the troubled state-owned airline SAA propped up, with no expenses spared, and the acquisition of companies in South Africa and elsewhere. There’s much not to like about the anti-white EFF, but when it comes to Zuma they call it right, time and again. For Mkhaliphi, the most dangerous person in South Africa is Zuma. Surveying the ravaging effects Zuma’s leadership is having on the economy, and ultimately on the lives of millions, Mkhaliphi is surely close to the mark? – Jackie Cameron

By Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The only reason why the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) charged Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in October this year, was to gain access to state coffers, said Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Speaking in a debate on the impact the decisions by the NPA to prosecute Gordhan had had on the economy, Mkhaliphi sketched a situation should a finance minister loyal to the Gupta family be successful in capturing National Treasury.

South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

“If a Gupta puppet controls National Treasury, the SAA would get unlimited guarantees, regardless of the bad management of Dudu Myeni (SAA board chairperson),” she said.

“If a Gupta puppet controls National Treasury, Denel and the Guptas will loot state money in Asia without disruption,” she said with reference to a controversial deal in which Denel had acquired a stake in a company VR Laser which reportedly has ties with the Guptas.

“If a Gupta puppet controls National Treasury, the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) will be looted to buy Airforce One,” she said.

“Look what happened with Eskom when state money was used to buy a mining company for Duduzani Zuma.”

Mkhaliphi was referring to former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report. In her findings she said the Eskom board acted in such a way as to favour the Guptas’ mining company Tegeta over other rivals when coal contracts had been awarded. The president’s son, Duduzane, is said to have a stake in Tegeta coal.

‘SA’s most dangerous person is Zuma’

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma

Mkhaliphi in her speech said the “most dangerous person” in the country is President Jacob Zuma. “He and the ANC are beyond salvation.”

His appointment of Des van Rooyen (currently Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs) for four days in the place of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, proves he has no respect for South Africa’s finances.

“Zuma only cares about corruption and state capturing. He’ll even capture himself,” Mkhaliphi concluded.

‘Mafia justice’

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s (IFP) Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said in his speech the decision to prosecute Gordhan was “carefully constructed within the constraints of mafia justice”.

“It was to settle political scores, but the consequences left an imprint on our economy and politics.”

Nqabayomzi Kwankwa, UDM MP, referred in his speech to the fact that Zuma tried to downplay the severity of a possible ratings downgrade when he answered questions in the National Assembly a week ago.”

Must read: Updated with transcript: Gupta interview they buried for 9 months

“The President cited Brazil and Russia as countries that had been downgraded, yet they were doing fine,” Kwankwa said, “but for the record: Brazil has its longest recession since the 1930s, while Russia’s economy contracted by 3.7% in 2015.”

Scuppering SA’s image

Corné Mulder from the FF Plus, said in his speech South Africans can do their uttermost to portray a positive image of the country, yet the NPA charged the finance minister without being sure of the validity of the charges. “You should be one million percent sure if you want to charge the finance minister!”

ACDP MP Steve Swart said Gordhan was charged earlier in October when the country could least afford it.

“It had a severe impact on bond and equity markets which lost R50bn. The rand weakened substantially,” Swart said.

“International markets rely on state institutions and it is naïve to suggest there’s nothing special about charging the minister of finance,” Swart added.

The ANC’s Mziwamadoda Kalako said the ruling party is not in denial over the impact utterances by state organs could have on the image of the country.

He reiterated though that government is doing its best to achieve positive growth.

“As proud South Africans we must be bearers of good news. Our government does a lot of things right,” he said, referring to the fact that the country survived credit ratings downgrades from Fitch and Moody’s on Friday November 25. – Fin24


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