Cape Town - Cabinet ministers' planned engagement with South Africa's top four banks on behalf of Oakbay Investments shows the Gupta family controls the government, said Congress of the People (Cope) amid mounting discontent among opposition political parties over the move.
This comes after Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe said three cabinet ministers were to hold meetings with South Africa’s four big banks to find out why they decided to close the bank account of the Gupta-owned company.
“What more evidence do we need that the Gupta family controls the government?” Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said in a statement. “It is unheard of for cabinet ministers to become directly involved in a dispute between banks and a private company.
“For Zuma and the Cabinet to have decided on appointing three ministers to intervene on behalf of the Guptas is unprecedented. Will any other company get exactly the same support in similar circumstances?”
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also joined the fray, saying it rejected Cabinet's narrow intervention into “private affairs of the Gupta family”.
“What this means is that the South African government has deployed its ministers to go and resolve private business problems of the Gupta family – a family whom Mr Zuma has confirmed are his friends.”
The EFF called for the strengthening of laws that deal with financial crimes.
“All banks, audit firms, and other financial institutions must play a central role in combating all forms of financial crimes. The financial regulation and conduct authorities must also be empowered to decisively address disputes of such nature in order to avoid government and Cabinet's abuse by conflicted individuals.”
The EFF also undertook to object in writing on the decision to involve government in the Oakbay matter.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of finance David Maynier issued a statement on Thursday afternoon, saying the intended meeting between the banks and the three ministers was “a mistake”.
Radebe, who briefed the media on Thursday on cabinet decisions taken on April 13, said government “endorsed” that Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan “should open a constructive engagement with the banks to find a solution” to the issue.
He added that government feared the banks’ actions could deter future foreign investment in South Africa.
Recently a number of financial institutions, including KPMGr, the top four banks and Oakbay’s JSE sponsor Sasfin Capital, said they were cutting ties with Oakbay or had given notice to do so.
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