The billions were allegedly taken from budgets of various State-Owned Entities (SOEs) such as Eskom, SAA and Transnet, and left the shores of the country without any detection in the past five years.
These shocking details were revealed by a group of academics and members of the SA Council of Churches to SACP members during the communist party’s 14th national congress east of Joburg on Thursday.
The SACP has been calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down following former public protector advocate Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report which placed Zuma at the forefront of the alleged “illicit business deals” involving with the Guptas.
On Thursday, Professsor Ivor Chipkin of Wits University told SACP delegates that the partnership between certain government officials and Guptas “began as a political project which started in good faith”.
He said in 2009, after Zuma had taken over, the parties had initially planned to deal with the challenges of black people not participating in the economy of the country.
The parties agreed to produce black industrialists, but troubles began in 2010 and 2011.
This was when the various roleplayers allegedly became entangled in public procurement projects which did not meet the requirements of the law.
Chipkin said South Africa’s constitution and public procurement laws became an impediment in their bids to get major government tenders without following proper procedures.
According to Chipkin, the constitution and laws became a threat to the Guptas and, as a result, there was a “growing assault and political attacks on the Treasury”.
“There were also increasing moves to illegally reshuffle the cabinet,” Chipkin said.
He said all that was aimed at influencing the awarding of the R51 billion tender for the purchasing of locomotives for Transnet.
He said a similar modus operandi was later executed at Eskom. The power utility paid Glencore mine R325 million annually for the purchase of low-quality coal, but the amount increased to R7bn annually when the Guptas took over the control of the same mine, Chipkin said.
The academics said that some of the cabinet decisions were taken either at Saxonwold, the Guptas’ homestead, or at a kitchen cabinet.
“Their decision would then be referred to the cabinet to rubber stamp.”
Sikhulekile Duma, a 22-year-old from Stellenbosch University, corroborated Chipkin’s version, saying that the nuclear deal was decided on by the “kitchen cabinet” and it was referred to Zuma’s cabinet for rubber stamping.
Duma shocked delegates when he told them South Africa was spending R212bn on its SOEs and Eskom controlled R74bn of the total amount. “Eskom officials do not need Treasury approval and they do business with whoever they wanted,” Duma said.