The stand-off between finance minister Pravin Gordhan and Hawks boss Berning Ntlemeza took another turn today, when the SA Communist Party (SACP) warned of attempts to capture Treasury.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande said the punitive charges against Gordhan were a flimsy concoction without the slightest basis in law. “They are designed as a pretext to remove comrade Gordhan from office and weaken Treasury’s struggle against corruption and corporate capture,” Nzimande told the media following the party’s central committee meeting in Kempton Park.
“The timing has an eerie similarity with the events that unfolded between 2003 and 2007, when the timing of another prosecution attempt against a senior politician appeared to be coordinated around the political calendar of the ANC.”
In 2003 former boss of the National Director of Public Prosecutions head Bulelani Ngcuka announced that while there was a prima facie against then deputy president Jacob Zuma, he would not be prosecuted. Nzimande said this placed Zuma, the ANC and the whole country in an untenable situation.
“The current harassment of comrade Gordhan bears an uncanny resemblance to those events where judicial processes are used and abused for political ends,” Nzimande said. The SACP, which has been critical of the Gupta famil’sy reported influence over Zuma and several of his ministers, said it viewed Friday’s announcement by the family to sell off its assets in South Africa by the end of the year to certain unspecified international interests with a “great deal of scepticism.”
“It comes at a time when Gupta companies are reportedly under increasing scrutiny from the Reserve Bank, Treasury and the Financial Intelligence Centre,” said Nzimande. “There is a strong possibility that the Guptas simply intend to sell their South African interests to themselves through their foreign-based investment venture capital operations.
“We call on the Financial Intelligence Centre to satisfy itself that, if any sales are affected, the Gupta family or close relatives are not the beneficial owners of the sale.”
Nzimande added: “We trust that the Reserve Bank, before approving any sale from a resident to a non-resident, will ensure that there is full legal compliance with export requirements. We also believe that our financial regulatory entities should ensure that money is retained in South Africa in a blocked account so that any potential penalties and liabilities are covered.
Commenting on the ANC’s poor showing in the recent local government elections, Nzimande said that unless serious corrective measures were undertaken, the decline would continue and probably accelerate.
“Growing numbers of South Africans are tired of being taken for granted,” Nzimande said. “They believe that ANC formal structures are increasingly inward looking, preoccupied with factional battles and money politics.
“They believe that the conduct of ANC politicians is often arrogant and aloof. All South Africans are deeply concerned about corruption.”
He said that the manner in which the ANC chose to campaign by foregrounding Zuma and not local issues and local mayoral candidates played straight into the hands of the opposition campaign.
“The opposition parties had very little to say about local policy content, focusing instead on our national leadership shortcomings – whether real or alleged. The SACP rejected the call by the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) for an early ANC elective conference.
“We are also aware that the ANCYL is being used by others to test the waters in this regard, ” said Nzimande. “The SACP is firmly of the belief that the motivation for this call is entirely factional.
“Those making this call are not even bothering to disguise their factional intentions.”
Nzimande said the Communist Party wanted a consultative conference prior to the ANC’s national conference.
“Such a consultative conference should be a non-elective event, ” Nzimande said. “The aim of the consultative should be to unify the ANC and the indeed the broader on a principled programmatic basis.”