EXCLUSIVE: 'Friends' of Guptas compiled Gordhan 'intelligence document'

2017-04-06 09:02
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas. (Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24)

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his former deputy Mcebisi Jonas. (Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24)

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Johannesburg - At least one “intelligence report” on former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s trip to the UK was compiled by an organisation that calls the controversial Gupta family its “friends”, and whose lawyer is a regular guest on the Gupta-owned television station ANN7.

Zehir Omar, a lawyer for the Society for the Protection of our Constitution (SPOC), told News24 that the society – which has its own “intelligence unit” – received information from “Indian, Iranian and Russian intelligence agencies”. According to this information, international financial institutions were planning to undermine President Jacob Zuma’s government while Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were on an international investor roadshow.

Omar said the society subsequently compiled a dossier and distributed it to several stakeholders, including ANC headquarters Luthuli House. He denied that the SPOC’s “dossier” was the same one that allegedly informed Zuma’s decision to axe Gordhan and Jonas.

Omar said the document Zuma allegedly relied on was compiled by a South African government intelligence agency.

Same sources

He did, however, admit that the two documents share many similarities. An extract from the document Zuma supposedly presented at meetings with top ANC leaders before his dramatic Cabinet reshuffle late last Thursday was sent to several journalists the previous Tuesday, a day after Gordhan’s recall from the UK.

“In my view the coincidence may be linked to the authenticity of the information,” Omar said.

“On the balance of probability, I would say that the information in the government intelligence report came from the same Indian, Iranian and Russian intelligence sources from whom we got our information.”

Gordhan, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and SACP members who attended meetings with Zuma before the reshuffle, confirmed that the president based his decision to recall Gordhan and Jonas from the UK on an “intelligence report”.

The report was said to implicate Gordhan and Jonas in a plot to undermine Zuma’s government, with the assistance of international financial firms.

'Irretrievable breakdown of trust'

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe however told reporters on Tuesday that the party accepted that Zuma fired Gordhan because of an “irretrievable breakdown of trust”, and not because of an intelligence report.

EFF leader Julius Malema, who said he obtained a copy of the full report Zuma allegedly relied on, claimed that a former employee of the Gupta family was behind the document, according to a TimesLive report.

EFF chairperson Dali Mpofu told News24 it would be illegal for the party to share the document with the media. His comment seemed to imply that whatever document the party obtained was an official government intelligence document.

The Guptas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, said his clients were in no way responsible for an “intelligence document” on Gordhan’s visit, and that it was not unusual for Malema to make such remarks.

He added that the Guptas played no part in Omar’s appearance on ANN7.

“The people at ANN7 choose their own panels and experts. His [Omar’s] appearance on ANN7 was on the strength of a selection made by the management,” Van der Merwe said.

'No knowledge' of intelligence report

When asked about the report, Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Nqulunga encouraged News24 to approach the State Security Agency for comment.

“The Presidency has no knowledge of the intelligence report referred to,” Nqulunga said.

The SSA indicated it had no knowledge of an intelligence report on Gordhan’s visit.

“Last week, we distanced ourselves from that report [the one circulated among journalists], and nothing has changed since then, our stance remains the same,” spokesperson Brian Dube told News24.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa denied that the party received a copy of the SPOC’s report.

“We are not in the business of intelligence gathering,” he said.

Omar, who regularly appears on ANN7 as a law expert, has been publicly accused of being pro-Gupta and pro-Zuma.

He said he only appeared on the Gupta-owned news station to “advance the interests of South Africa.”

“The aim of the ANC is to wrestle control of the economy from the hands of white monopoly capital, and the Guptas are being used as a tool to assist in wrestling control from the likes of the Anglo group. So long as the Guptas promote these aims of the ANC, they will be friends of our society,” he said.

He denied that the SPOC was funded or supported by the Guptas, or that the controversial family was in any way involved in the SPOC’s intelligence report on Gordhan. 

* Do you have information for our investigative journalists? Send an email to tips@24.com

Read more on:    ann7  |  anc  |  ssa  |  pravin gordhan  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

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