Johannesburg - The sudden resignation of Oakbay Investments chief executive Nazeem Howa may not be the last as the fallout over Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s explosive affidavit in court blows up in public.
This was the observation of economist Dr Iraj Abedian of Pan African Capital on Monday as Howa’s resignation was announced a few days after Gordhan had exposed the illegal transactions totalling R6.83 billion in the accounts of the Guptas.
Ill-health has been cited as the reason for Howa’s departure.
His resignation came a day before President Jacob Zuma and Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen’s urgent application for an interdict into the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela was to be heard in the high court in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Howa, as Oakbay’s boss, has been at the heart of the controversial family’s empire and has defended the family’s dealings in South Africa, which are central to the former public protector’s investigation into state capture.
He has also been at the centre of the fight for the banks to re-open the accounts of the Guptas.
The Guptas' lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, said on Monday he would challenge Gordhan’s application in court and expose the dealings of the banks.
“I am going to ask... you see the banks did not want to disclose the reasons for closing the accounts of my client,” he said.
“I want to force them to give those reasons and I will file an affidavit to show them that the closing of the accounts was malicious,” said Van der Merwe.
“The application is ill-founded and I am going to show the true facts before the judge, and I am grateful for that opportunity,” he said.
Abedian said the resignation of Howa raised more questions than answers. He said the weekend reports showed that there were illegal dealings in the Gupta-owned businesses.
“There are illegal activities being revealed in court by no less than the minister of finance and the Financial Intelligence Centre,” said Abedian.
The resignation of Howa was not the first or the last, with more executives at Oakbay expected to follow suit after Gordhan’s explosive affidavit, he added.
He said the integrity of Howa and other executives of Oakbay would be questioned.
He said the chief executive, chief financial officer and other executives were liable for some of the decisions and illegal things done at the company.
Gordhan had insisted in a series of exchange of letters with Howa that he would not be able to intervene in the decisions of the banks to close the accounts of the Guptas.
Abedian said a lot would happen at Oakbay in the next coming days and weeks.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist when billions of rand are moved around; they have to be very afraid. Expect a lot more of these resignations,” he said.
The Guptas have denied any wrongdoing in the country. The family are close to President Jacob Zuma, who has defended his relationship with the controversial family. Zuma has been under pressure in recent times over his relationship with the Guptas.
He has refused to step down despite growing calls from ANC veterans after allegations of state capture emerged.
Zuma also denied that the Guptas were behind the appointment of cabinet ministers.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has challenged him to a public debate on state capture. But Zuma has not taken up the offer by Mentor, a former chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, to debate state capture in public.
The Guptas have denied the illegal transfers of R6.83bn in various accounts in the past few months.