Newsmaker: Still fighting after all these years

2017-11-12 06:01
Lord Peter Hain has asked that British banks be investigated for their links to the Guptas, and President Jacob Zuma and his family. Picture: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Lord Peter Hain has asked that British banks be investigated for their links to the Guptas, and President Jacob Zuma and his family. Picture: Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

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In London, Lord Peter Hain is under siege for sounding the alarm on corruption involving President Jacob Zuma and his friends, the Gupta family, in the British Parliament’s House of Lords.

His speech delivered last week, he says, was prompted by whistle-blowers in the ANC. His sources, stalwarts of the party, are fearing for their lives.

The British Labour Party politician told City Press in an interview this week: “I was approached some months ago and asked by ANC stalwarts to ask these questions in Parliament.

"These are people I have known for years. I have been an ANC supporter for decades. I’m acting on their request.”

In a letter before the UK Parliament, Hain asks the British Treasury to investigate British banks for links to 27 people listed with their South African ID numbers.

The list includes President Jacob Zuma, his ex-wife and presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s sons Duduzane, Edward and Mxolisi, his daughter Duduzile, his nephew Khulubuse, his wives Bongi Ngema-Zuma and Thobeka Madiba-Zuma, Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, their business partner Salim Essa and disgraced former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe.

The document lists 14 business entities “linked to the Guptas” and “suspected to have been set up for the purposes of transnationally laundering their illicit proceeds”.

Ironically, in 2015, President Zuma awarded Hain a medal for his contribution to the freedom struggle.

Hain told City Press his sources were “highly placed whistle-blowers in the South African state and financial systems.

“These are people who are incredibly brave, fearing for their jobs and lives. I salute them for their courage and strength.

"These people are acting almost as bravely as did the freedom fighters during apartheid,” he said.

Since he delivered his speech in the House of Lords, Hain’s phone has been ringing off the hook, thanks to an online smear campaign.

He has been besieged by so-called Zuptabots – fake Twitter accounts believed to have been created by disgraced British public relations firm Bell Pottinger to fan racial division in a bid to deflect from Zuma’s and the Gupta’s alleged looting of the state.

“My Twitter’s been going haywire, all lies and smears. It’s a relentless attack, fabricated pictures of me and my wife Elizabeth in bed, pictures of me and Anton Rupert.

"I mean I’ve never even met Mr Rupert. Honestly, I don’t really mind. It’s so crude, infantile,” he said.

Hain noted that the Zuptabots were outliving their creators at Bell Pottinger, which has virtually shut after the scandal.

In September, the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association announced it had stripped the company of its membership for bringing the PR industry into disrepute.

“I find it kind of interesting, so the Bell Pottinger machine is still operating, even though they closed down ... an algorithm of sorts.”

In the letter before the UK Parliament, Hain writes: “Having recently visited South Africa, it is clear the country is gripped by a political, economic and social crisis, precipitated by a vast criminal network facilitated by an Indian-South African family, the Guptas, and the presidential family, the Zumas.

“It became clear to me that [this criminal network] is not localised to South Africa – indeed it has been enabled by a transnational money laundering network that these individuals have established.

“I have deep concerns and questions around the complicity, whether witting or unwitting, of UK global financial institutions in the Gupta/Zuma transnational criminal network.” 

Further statements by Hain to the House of Lords link the Guptas and Zumas to two major British banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered.

On Monday, the house ordered the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, the Serious Fraud Office and National Crime Agency to scrutinise Hain’s allegations.

Hain says they are “certainly being investigated very thoroughly” and there will be more developments – private and some in public.

Hain, who served in the cabinets of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, grew up in Pretoria, where his anti-apartheid activist mother Adelaine sneaked soup and chocolate bars to former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, then 15 years old and on trial.

Adelaine, now 90, feels deeply betrayed by South Africa’s corrupt government, Hain said.

“This is not what my mother, Mandela and thousands of others fought for. My parents, they sacrificed everything, and for what – this mafia-style criminality?”

At Hain’s UK Parliamentary office in Westminster, a framed 1994 election poster of Nelson Mandela for president is behind his desk. It was a gift from Walter Sisulu.

“He [Mandela] keeps an eye on me as he did also when I was a British government minister,” Hain says.

Born in 1950, Hain’s first childhood memory of something greatly amiss in South African society was when apartheid special branch officers barged into his room.

“When I was 10 years old, I woke up at 04:00 to the special branch searching the bedroom where my brother and I slept.

"There were a lot of them, definitely armed. Mostly they searched my collection of motor car files for incriminating evidence – which they did not find, of course.”

Aged 11, Hain watched helplessly as his parents, Adelaine and Walter, were arrested.

They were jailed for two weeks without charge.

The next year, Adelaine attended Mandela’s first trial at the Old Synagogue in Pretoria, the only white person in the whites-only gallery.

That evening at home, she told her family how, when Mandela entered the dock, he raised his first to salute her, a gesture she returned.

Adelaine and Walter and their four children fled to London in 1966, where Hain became an anti-apartheid activist.

He understood the white South African psyche and knew how to hit them where it hurt most, and set about spearheading a campaign to prevent whites-only sports teams from competing internationally.

The apartheid government continued its campaign against the Hain family.

In 1972, South African foreign intelligence sent a letter bomb to their home in Putney.

In his memoir Outside In, Hain recalls how his sister Sally opened it.

“Recessed into a thick sheet of balsa wood were hideous metal cylinders and terminals with wires protruding,” he writes.

“We sat transfixed, expecting it to explode, seconds seeming like ages. Yet nothing happened.”

Now, Hain is astonished and saddened by the latest developments in South Africa’s history.

“I used to support the new South Africa. I never expected that I would have to intervene in this manner.”

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  guptas

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