Editorial: A case of truth or dare

2016-10-23 06:01

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Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s court application for a declaratory order allowing him, as a minister, to intervene in matters involving a bank and its client will provide South Africa with much-needed answers.

Since the country’s banks decided to cut ties with the Gupta family and their businesses earlier this year, theories have abounded to explain the banks’ collective action.

Did the family and its companies do something wrong? Or, did the banks conspire to cancel the accounts against the family, given the brothers’ proximity to President Jacob Zuma? All answers were mere speculation – until last Friday.

Gordhan’s application is essential for national clarity, especially after government instituted an interministerial team to engage the banks on their reasons for cancelling the family’s accounts.

This, in turn, begged the question about whether any South African could be treated in the same manner by government if their accounts were to be cancelled by banks.

Gordhan listed transactions amounting to R6.8 billion that were flagged by the Financial Intelligence Centre against the Gupta-owned empire.

The family hit back at Gordhan by releasing certain documents to prove that they had conducted business in a fair and proper manner, and that there was nothing sinister about said transactions.

Gordhan’s application coincided with the imminent release of then public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on state capture, which investigated the alleged control of government by the Gupta family. This followed complaints that the family had offered several ministerial positions to politicians – a prerogative of the president – in return for favours.

Zuma, the Gupta family and Cooperative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen put a stop to Madonsela releasing the report by bringing an urgent court application, in which they demanded that they be afforded a chance to question the people who had given evidence to the Public Protector. That matter is also before the courts.

The Guptas, like any other person, have every right to defend themselves against any allegations.

But public bickering will not bring them relief. The court processes will give the family a chance to put forward their case regarding Gordhan’s application and the Public Protector’s report. Only then will we find out who is telling the truth.

Read more on:    pravin gordhan  |  thuli madon­sela  |  jacob zuma  |  guptas  |  politics

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