Madonsela's race against time to investigate Gupta influence

2016-10-05 20:32
Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

Thuli Madonsela (Lerato Maduna, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma will on Thursday have to answer, under oath, to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s questions about state capture.

She was expected to ask him if he allowed members of the Gupta family to influence Cabinet appointments.

One of the priests who laid a complaint with Madonsela’s office, Father Brian Mhlangu, said they had received no official indication that her state capture report would soon be released.

"At this stage we have no comment. We would prefer to wait for the outcome of the report," Mhlangu said on Wednesday.

Madonsela would this coming week try to conclude her preliminary report into state capture before leaving office on October 14. She has described it as a race against time.

Madonsela started her probe in March, after the Catholic Dominican Order asked her to investigate if the Guptas had offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor Cabinet positions.

The order also wanted to know if the Guptas knew of Des Van Rooyen’s appointment as finance minister in December last year, before it was made public, and whether two senior advisers with links to the Guptas were appointed to the National Treasury alongside Van Rooyen, without procedure having been followed.

‘Most important’ investigation

They wanted Madonsela to investigate if there had been corruption or improper conduct in the Gupta family’s business dealings with the state.

While there were few details on her investigation, those close to her office said Madonsela had received a lot of information.

Advocate Paul Hoffman, of Accountability Now, said while this was Madonsela’s last investigation as public protector, it was her most important.

“There is no doubt that this is Thuli Madonsela’s biggest investigation both politically and the most important in terms of seeing whether the rule of law is still in place, or if it has been replaced by a kleptocracy,” said Hoffman.

Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said Madonsela interviewed Ajay Gupta at her offices earlier in the week. She received information from Cabinet on members' interests on the same day.

Earlier this month, she issued a subpoena asking for ministers’ declarations of interest from November last year to this year, and Cabinet minutes for the same period.

On Monday, the Citizen published a letter to Madonsela from businessman Fana Hlongwana. In it he claimed Jonas lied when he said the Guptas had offered him a Cabinet position. Hlongwana said he met Jonas and Zuma’s son Duduzane to discuss business.

“I categorically deny that there was ever a discussion or offer, by anybody of any government position, to Deputy Finance Minister Jonas,” he wrote.

Madonsela told reporters on Tuesday that she had asked Hlongwana to come to her office and answer questions under oath. He had not done so.

Madonsela had interviewed Jonas, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, former communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda, and former government spokesperson Themba Maseko.

Segalwe said while they could not divulge details of the investigation because they did want to jeopardise it, these people had all publicly come forward to say the Guptas had approached them at some point to offer them a government post.

The week will end with Zuma's interview. Maybe next week, if Madonsela wins her race against the clock, the public will know what was said behind those closed doors.  

Read more on:    thuli madonsela  |  state capture  |  state capture report

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