State capture skeletons will rattle meeting of ANC bigwigs
It's going to be a very uneasy affair now that the Gupta farce and other skulduggery are out in the open
The ANC national executive committee meets for the first time this weekend since the start of the state capture inquiry.
In years gone by there used to be a comradely atmosphere when the senior-most leaders of the ANC congregated – hugs, small talk and raucous laughter at frivolous jokes.
Now, some NEC members from opposing factions do not even greet each other. There are awkward silences if they happen to encounter each other at the door or at the coffee station.
Some members cannot even be taken seriously as the ANC’s top brass. Former ministers Faith Muthambi and Bongani Bongo, for example, made it onto the NEC because they were Zuma loyalists, not because the delegates at the Nasrec conference believed they had the capacity to sit on the ANC’s highest decision-making body.
The weekend’s meeting is likely to be sombre because of the passing of NEC member and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
But there is also likely to be unease now that the farce over state capture is up.
With the evidence presented at the Zondo commission, there can no longer be just suspicions about who sold the ANC and SA to the Guptas.
People now know that their fellow NEC member Mosebenzi Zwane would have gone as far as compromising the integrity and security of SA’s banking system in service to his masters.
They will know that Zwane was so desperate to get the Guptas transacting again after their accounts were closed that he threatened to use his position in the ANC to change the banking laws.
It is not new that Zwane is a Gupta stooge. Those who elected him in December knew that he lied to the nation that cabinet would be initiating a commission of inquiry into the banks.
Zwane was not the only sellout elected onto the NEC.
Through the leaked Gupta e-mails it emerged that Muthambi sent a series of messages to Rajesh Gupta and the family’s hatchet man, Ashu Chawla, with confidential cabinet documents when she was Communications minister.
Evidence was presented at the Zondo commission showing how Muthambi abused her position as minister and flouted government regulations to direct funds to the Guptas’ media entities.
Those who really ought to be embarrassed by the revelations at the inquiry are Gwede Mantashe and Enoch Godongwana.
Godongwana has never been drawn into the Gupta mess. He is generally forthright so it is perplexing why he has never revealed that he personally contacted some of the banking CEOs to summon them to the ANC headquarters after the Gupta accounts were terminated.
Mantashe has for years been rolling in cow dung on state capture, trying to play down the issue despite a parade of people to Luthuli House bringing evidence and their experiences to his attention.
But never before was it known that he himself used his office in service of the Guptas. According to the evidence presented by Standard Bank’s Ian Sinton, Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa “informed Standard Bank’s representatives that the ANC had requested the meeting with Standard Bank at the behest of Oakbay and its associates”.
The timing of the meetings with the banks is significant. They occurred five months after former president Jacob Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene as Finance minister. Mantashe and Godongwana knew how SA had been thrown into peril when Zuma tried to install Gupta flunky Des van Rooyen at the national Treasury. They were also fully aware of the pressure on the Treasury to approve the nuclear deal.
The meetings with the banks were also two months after former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed that the Guptas tried to bribe and promote him. Jonas got Mantashe’s blessing before going public.
It was also three months after the Hawks sent Pravin Gordhan a list of 27 questions, on the eve of the presentation of 2016 Budget, as part of a trumped-up investigation to hound him out of the Treasury. Mantashe slammed the Hawks for this.
Yet, with all this knowledge of the Guptas’ manoeuvres, Mantashe still tried to browbeat the bankers with the Bell Pottinger propaganda script, asking whether they were acting in concert with white monopoly capital against the family.
Mantashe, who now chairs the NEC, will preside over the weekend’s meeting knowing he is exposed as a hypocrite.
There will be trepidation among other NEC members about when their dirty laundry will be aired.
Jessie Duarte used to be a proud advocate of the Gupta interests, even going as far as knifing her comrades. In an interview on the former Gupta-owned station ANN7 in August 2016, she lobbied for Gordhan to subject himself to the Hawks’ farcical investigation.
In another interview with ANN7 a year later, Duarte accused Gordhan and Jonas of being “aggrieved members” because of their campaign against state capture.
“If you have difficulty with the ANC‚ please resign,” she said.
Other members such as secretary-general Ace Magashule, Malusi Gigaba, Collen Maine, Sfiso Buthelezi, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, David Mahlobo and Jeff Radebe will also be anxious about how to face the music when their names feature at the commission.
It is hardly surprising that the ANC is treading on eggshells, and the head in the Presidency, Zizi Kodwa, wants the media to desist from analysing the evidence at the inquiry. The party is severely compromised.
With Magashule exposed in skulduggery against President Cyril Ramaphosa and skeletons tumbling out of the closet at the Zondo commission, there will be a tense undercurrent at this weekend’s meeting.
Will the rest of the members be able to confront the charlatans among them? Probably not.