Gupta can of worms could drag Zuma down
Parliament - The all-out war between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Guptas could drag President Jacob Zuma down.
Gordhan filed an explosive affidavit in the Pretoria High Court warning he could not get involved in banks closure of the Guptas' accounts.
Gordhan has cited the family, its companies, the SA Reserve Bank and the four major banks as interested parties in his court application. The banks cut ties with the Guptas earlier this year after allegations of state capture emerged.
The banks which closed the Guptas' accounts might be called to give evidence in Gordhan’s high court application.
On Sunday, the EFF and DA said the Guptas must be charged for various crimes, among them money laundering, fraud and racketeering.
The EFF laid criminal charges against the Gupta family, specifically Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta, and all the directors of their companies, including President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, at Rosebank police station in Joburg on Sunday.
DA MP David Maynier said he would lay further charges in Cape Town this week, after he first lodged a criminal complaint against the Gupta family in March.
Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt said on Sunday that it was possible that the four major banks that closed the Guptas' accounts could give evidence in Gordhan’s case.
“The banks may be asked to give more evidence,” he said.
The other question that needed to be asked was whether Jacob Zuma had been incriminated. “Can the president be implicated in this in one way or another? The president is close to the Guptas,” Roodt said.
“The president may not be implicated financially but he may be implicated in another level,” he added.
Zuma has in the past denied any corrupt relationship with the family, and told Parliament the Guptas were his friends.
But Roodt said the true picture may emerge out of this court battle.
He said the fight between Gordhan and the Guptas could provide information about the extent of Zuma's knowledge about some of the dealings.
Zuma has also denied in Parliament the EFF's claims he had transported money for the Guptas from South Africa to Dubai.
EFF leader Julius Malema said in his state visit recently, Zuma loaded suitcases packed with R7 billion in his jet from South Africa to Dubai for the Guptas.
It was recently reported the family was planning to relocate to the United Arab Emirates. They were said to have bought a mansion there. The family indicated a few months ago that they would sell their South African businesses by the end of the year.
The Guptas and Zuma have denied Malema's allegations.
Malema repeated this allegation on Thursday at a media conference in Joburg.
He called on law enforcement agencies to investigate the matter.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday they would table a motion in Parliament this week to debate the protection of the National Treasury.
He said the Treasury had been under attack from the Guptas and the Zuma faction in the ANC.
He called on ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu to urge his caucus to support their motion on the Treasury.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor also accused the Guptas of racketeering and money laundering.
She said she was not surprised by Gordhan’s affidavit as it highlighted the level of corruption between Zuma and the Guptas.
But the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing in the transactions.
Ajay Gupta has said there were no suspicious transactions in their accounts as alleged by Gordhan in his affidavit.
The Treasury on Sunday released Gordhan’s declaratory relief application in which he explained that he couldn't intervene in the matter of the banks and the Guptas.
The minister listed 72 suspicious transactions in his affidavit in the high court. The money had been transferred without either reason or explanation.
In his application, Gordhan said the banks had every right to close the family's accounts.
“The continued public assertions that the registered banks within the regulatory environment in South Africa acted for no adequate reason, irregularly and indeed for improper reasons in closing the accounts are harmful to the reputation for integrity of South Africa’s financial and banking sectors,” he said.
The Guptas have not gone to court to fight the matter.
Zuma has denied any corruption in his involvement with the Guptas.
Gordhan’s explosive affidavit came a few days after the National Prosecuting Authority charged him with fraud.
But that has been dismissed as a smokescreen - the real intention being to get him out of the Treasury.
Gordhan has been at the Treasury for 10 months after he made a dramatic return following a spectacular flop by Zuma in trying to appoint Des van Rooyen as finance minister. Van Rooyen lasted just four days in the position.
Gordhan had refused to answer detailed questions on the Guptas in Parliament.
The National Treasury has been at the centre of the investigations of some of their companies.
One of these companies was Tegeta, which was investigated in connection with its coal contracts with Eskom. This led to a public spat after the Treasury said Eskom had refused to hand over documents it required to investigate the Gupta firm.