Noteworthy News: South Africa captured by foreign businessmen
State capture report
South Africa's Public Protector, advocate Thuli Madonsela, was interdict to publish her draft report into the alleged capturing of the state on October 15. Her intention to publish this long-awaited report on the last day of her term as public protector was suddenly brought to a halt when President Jacob Zuma as well as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Rooyen, applied to court for an interdict preventing the release of the report. A few days later Des van Rooyen withdrew his application.
Quite calm, as if expecting the interdict, Thuli handed the report to Parliament for safekeeping awaiting the rule of court on November 1. Parliament, however, and especially the Speaker, Baleka Mbete, treated the report as if it were a bomb ready to explode in her face. The very next day the report was returned to the office of the Public Protector, now to be held for the next 7 years by advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Under lock and key the report will now be kept until the court rules its lot.
Advocate Thuli Madonsela
Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, brought oil to fire
Opposition parties were still bursting with indignation about Thuli's report being interdicted by the president, when the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, filed a court application for a Declaratory Order that has to confirm that he, in his capacity as Minister of Finance, may not intervene in the dispute between the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments and the four major banks who had closed all the Guptas' Oakbay's accounts in April 2016.
NB: The Public Protector's capture of the state report is all about the Gupta-family and their alleged control over President Zuma and other officials in SA's government. Her report would, among other matters, lift the lid on allegations that the cabinet's instruction to ministers to intervene between the Guptas and the banks was successfully orchestrated by some who are being bribed/bullied by the Guptas.
The minister of finance and some others were repeatedly asked by the Guptas Oakbay CEO to "speak" to the banks. This led to the cabinet's instruction that Minister Gordhan and some others approach the bank and share with them the cabinet's concerns about job losses in the Gupta’s company and the impact their decision (of closing Oakbay's accounts) would have on investors.
However, according to Gordhan's legal advisers intervention by Cabinet would be illegal as it would undermine the regulatory authorities - the Reserve Bank and SA’s Financial Intelligence Centre (FICA). The latter was introduced in 2003 specifically to fight financial crime such as money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing activities, etc. So what does an honorable minister do when his 'boss' wants him to do something illegal? In South Africa the Law is the most superior authority, therefor a minister can only apply for a declaratory order.
Already in 2013 Minister Pravin Gordhan said: "There are many parts of transacting between government and business which have gone seriously wrong and if we don't stop it, we're going to become a kleptocracy." Soon afterwards he lost his job as minister of finance.
In December 2015 Pravin Gordhan was reappointed as Finance Minister after President Zuma's faux pas of unexpectedly replacing Pravin's quite respectable successor with Des van Rooyen. SA’s currency immediately weakened as much as 10% against the dollar, and stocks of banks and bonds plunged. Apparently rapped on the knuckles, the president replaced Des van Rooyen with Pravin Gordhan as minister of finance. All of this happened within the space of four days.
Intelligence heads who had warned the president already in 2011 against the Guptas have, in the meanwhile, lost their jobs. It became clearer by the day to critics and opposition parties that the president was replacing anti-Guptas key-figures with pro-Guptas.
Pravin Gordan's explosive affidavit, attached to his application for a declaratory order, now lifted the lid on prima facie evidence of 72 'dodgy' Gupta transactions of billions of rands - clearly the reason for the banks' mysterious (but compulsory) closure of the Gupta-controlled Oakbay accounts in April this year. These 72 'dodgy' transactions, and also others that were not reported to FICA may (or may not) reveal money laundering, tax evasion, and the bribing of state officials in order to obtain government contracts.
The Guptas' Oakbay’s attorneys have notified Gordhan’s legal team that the company intended to oppose the application‚ unless the minister withdraws it and pays the costs by the afternoon of Wednesday October 19.
Gordhan’s lawyers confirmed on Wednesday morning that the application would not be withdrawn.
Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan, Minister of Finance
The Gupta family
At the final end of Apartheid, just before South Africa's first democratic election in 1994, Atul Gupta came to South Africa to "set up a shop". His first shop was a computer business. In the course of time more brothers came and eventually also their mother.
In India the family lived a modest life, even while Father Gupta was a successful businessman and the first in their neighborhood to own a car. He encouraged his sons to become ingenious businessmen, and especially in South Africa - a country he believed would become the "America of the world". .
Today, 23 years later, the Gupta-family has a business empire in South Africa comprising among other uranium, gold and coal mines, a luxury game lodge, a newspaper, a 24-hour news TV station, a passenger airline, and an engineering company. The original computer business grew from a one-man shop into a mighty company employing today some 10,000 people.
Allegations that the Gupta-family was undermining South Africa's integrity by bribing/bullying state officials, including the president, in order to obtain government contracts, culminated into a political storm in April 2013, when they landed their chartered Airbus A330 at the Waterkloof Air Base near Pretoria. The airbus carried 217 guests without passports from India, all of them friends and relatives of the Guptas. In a convoy of luxury vehicles, escorted by South Africa’s police, the guests traveled to Sun City - approximately two hours from the air base - to attend the wedding of the brothers' sister, Vega Gupta to Aakash Jahajgarhia.
“How could this have happened?” opposition parties and critics wanted to know, as the Waterkloof Air Base near Pretoria is a top-security base reserved for visiting heads of state and diplomatic delegations. Who gave the Guptas permission to use it? Who ordered SA’s Police Force to escort the guests all the way to Sun City?
The president and the entire ANC party were in a stale mate, driven into a corner by the opposition parties. The only response from the president was a request that the situation be handled with care so as not to jeopardize diplomatic relations with India.
The left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – (3rd largest political party) - started to call the president 'Zupta’. "The Guptas must go. Our country should not be held to ransom hostage by a "corrupt cartel" with "mafia" tendencies,” demanded the EFF. Even the DA refused to address the president as 'your honorable' as the rules of Parliament dictate.
Then came another storm in March of this year, when the deputy finance minister released a statement on social media, claiming that he was offered the position of Finance Minister by a member of the Guptas. Another ANC member of parliament, Vytjie Mentor, also came forward and alleged that the Guptas offered her the position of Minister of Public Enterprises on the condition that she gives Jet Airways (the Guptas passenger airline) the contract to shuttle between South Africa and India. (This week on TV she said her life is in danger since she mentioned all of this in parliament. She has received threats, her computers were stolen from her home, and she believes that she is going to be murdered by President Zuma.)
The Gupta family firmly denies all allegations. They would welcome the opportunity to clear their name, as they regard the position they are in as “part of a carefully orchestrated political campaign.”
Those in India who knew/know the Guptas, as well as their friends in SA, speak of them in the highest terms.
"My son had been rescued by the Gupta family when he could not find a job because of his family name." President Jacob Zuma
Some facts only relevant to President Zuma -
One of President Zuma's wives, Bongi Ngema-Zuma, is a communications officer in the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services. She lives in a mansion in the upscale suburb of Waterkloof Ridge in Pretoria. The Guptas allegedly paid for this house. The Guptas denied paying for it.
Since 2008, shortly after President Zuma became president, one of his 22 children, his son, Duduzane Zuma, was appointed a director to 12 different companies in the Gupta empire. Numerous court cases against him and his Gupta-partners raised opposition parties' hackles and gave free reigns to the venomous media. Recently he resigned from some of these firms in an effort to depoliticize the Guptas' companies.
"None of this has come through my dad!" Duduzane says. "I believe I would’ve been further if my surname wasn’t Zuma. It (my surname) has been a millstone (around my neck) for a very long time."
President Zuma says: "My son had been rescued by the Gupta family when he could not find a job because of his family name."
Duduzani's twin sister, Duduzile Zuma, was made a director of the Guptas computer business six months after President Zuma's election to the presidency in 2008. (She has since resigned from that position as well as from all positions held at Gupta owned businesses.) After her mother's suicide, she founded the Dudu Zuma Foundation charity for underprivileged women and children, specifically assisting those at risk of suicide.
The humble opinion of an owfma-sa
The bribing of key figures in order to generate income is a business tactic practiced since the beginning of humanity. Its been executed in a variety of forms - awards, gifts, discounts, name it. Exactly when would it be labeled as corrupt? Most certainly when it deliberately places others at a disadvantage. Whether the Guptas had placed others at a disadvantage while bribing inherently corrupt people, well, this is for the court to determine.
People asking for illegal awards, and people excepting gifts and awards at the cost of their employer, or their country, or other people, are inherently dishonest and corrupt. They should be hunted, caught and charged. Whether President Zuma or any other minister or state official was/is corrupt.... this, too, is for the court to determine.
Currently, for the first time since 1994, the SA government is determinedly on a mission to unmask corrupt state officials.
This ordinary white, female, middle-aged South African is watching the progress with great interest.
By the way, an owfma-sa is an ordinary white, female, middle-aged South African.
In addition to the 'state capture report'
Another (scary) happening on Wednesday, October 19: South Africa has formally requested to withdraw from the Rome Statute - a treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"The Republic of South Africa has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court."
"The Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act, 2002, is in conflict and inconsistent with the provisions of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 2001."
SA's withdrawal is the result of the Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's visit a year ago. The Sudanese president is being accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. SA's government ignored a court order for his arrest.
Ignoring the court order was not only criticized by the International Criminal Court, but also by SA's own Supreme Court of Appeal!
NB: The International Criminal Court, established in 2002, is the first legal body with permanent international jurisdiction to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Being a non-member means.... Go figure!
However, according to the managing director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Anton du Plessis, the South African government has acted illegally in withdrawing from the ICC. This is not a decision that can be made by the Cabinet alone; rather it can only be done with parliamentary approval. He advises civil society to challenge the decision without delay.
Student leader, Mcebo Dlamini, arrested and charged with public violence‚ possession of dangerous weapons‚ theft and assault, happened to be a 31-year-old citizen of a neighboring country, studying with a grant given to him by the South African government. (Of course, the government could not be aware of the fact that Dlamini is not a South African citizen, and will most certainly launch an investigation into the documents that were attached to Dlamini's application for a grant.) He was denied bail, as he might flee to Swaziland. According to his friends, he is on a hunger strike.
Student, Benjamin Phehla, former chairperson of the Faculty Student Council, was killed when a motorist lost control and crashed into a group of protesters.
Student leader, Shaeera Kalla, was allegedly shot 13 times in the back at close range by police who were using rubber bullets to disperse protesters. The matter will be referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for investigation, Police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer said. Any police officer found to have contravened the law will be dealt with accordingly.
President Zuma's opinion about this protest: "The turmoil is simply a sign of democracy playing itself off."
The war in northern Africa, especially the efforts to liberate Mosul, kept me on my knees. So many innocent people are suffering the evil deeds of terrorists! May they survive and receive what they need to get on their feet again.
The final debate between the USA's Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton gave me hope. Trump will not be America's next president. Or what do I know?
An explosion in Germany caused by "work on a pipeline", a 'chemical fire at London City Airport, and on Saturday a blaze raging through a garage and office block in east London, triggered my curiosity and empathy.
The crash-landing of Schiaparelli on Mars hooked me while I was supposed to be doing my laundry.
Let's hope for peace and love!
South Africa captured by foreign businessmen, update 2 November 2016
On Wednesday, November 2, the "State of Capture" report was finally released.
South Africa captured by foreign businessmen, update 26 November 2016
The Guptas' company, Oakbay Investment, has filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria, requesting that the court compels the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) to provide more details on the 72 suspicious transactions worth R6.8 billion that were reported to them by four major banks. They also want the four banks to disclose the reasons behind their decision to close the family’s business accounts.
© 2016 Martie Coetser
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