More in the pocket

2017-05-28 06:05
Deputy Minister Ben Martins. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi

Deputy Minister Ben Martins. Picture: Lindile Mbontsi

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New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was not the only ANC minister who actively worked for Gupta interests, or was allegedly pressurised into doing so. Others did too, states the report into state capture released on Thursday.

Lynne Brown

Momentum for the joint venture between defence company Denel and the Gupta-owned VR Laser grew after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown – appointed to the position in 2014 – appointed a new Denel board in July 2015.

The Betrayal of the Promise report states Brown apparently abandoned a list of proposed directors “prepared for her by the department of public enterprises, which wanted to retain most of the existing board on the basis that they had performed well and had not served their maximum two terms”.

“The list that Brown presented to Cabinet reportedly bore no resemblance to the one prepared by the department. It also lacked skills and experience: there was for example, not a single engineer (Denel being a highly technical state-owned company) and most had never served on a corporate board before,” the report specifies.

“She retained only one member of the outgoing board: Johannes ‘Sparks’ Motseki” – a former treasurer of the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association and a Gupta business partner.

Gigaba ordered the dissolution and deregistration of Denel Asia this month.

Brown also changed Eskom’s board to suit Gupta interests – and brought Brian Molefe over as CEO.

Almost all of the new board had Gupta links. It is chaired by Ben Ngubane, who, as SABC board chair, oversaw deals with the Gupta TV station ANN7.

Ben Martins

In a letter in late 2012 from then Prasa CEO Lucky Montana to then board chair – now deputy finance minister – Sifiso Buthelezi, “details emerged of how the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma allegedly planned to capture the parastatal and profit from a R51 billion tender”.

This letter leaked in 2016, “demonstrates how the Gupta network brokers political access for commercial gain”.

The Guptas represented China South Rail, one of seven bidders. With Duduzane Zuma and associates, they were allegedly pressuring then Transport Minister Ben Martins and Montana to favour them. The Guptas also, the letter said, proposed allocating shares to Montana and “directly, unashamedly and unapologetically demanded” that Martins restructure Prasa’s board.

Montana wrote: “I have previously reported to the chairman of my attendance of numerous meetings ... with the minister of transport, key advisors in the ministry of transport and representatives of the Gupta family.”

Montana later told amaBhungane that he was called to a meeting at Martins’ Pretoria home in September 2012, where he was introduced to Rajesh Gupta, Duduzane Zuma and an associate.

Montana’s letter states that at an international conference in Germany he attended shortly thereafter, bidders told him “that a Gupta associate had met with bidders in Switzerland, telling them: ‘We work with Lucky [Montana], we work with Ben Martins ... [and we have] the support of the president. [If] you don’t work with us, you are not going to get this bid.”

Martins was appointed deputy public enterprises minister in March.

Read more on:    ben martins  |  lynne brown  |  guptas

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