Mailbox: Guardian, Raider of Treasury square off – only one will survive

From Biznews community member Daniel Sutherland

The current stand-off between our President and our FinMin is like a duel at high noon in the old Wild West. But unlike duels in those days, it is not to settle a score, or because somebody had been insulted.

It is simply that we have a President that is in a corrupt relationship with a certain family from India, a family who had already became billionaires through huge contracts with South African SOE’s like Transnet, Denel, Eskom and SABC, also selling computers to the State, a family who has taken in the President’s son Duduzane as a significant shareholder.

It was already quite a heist. Not to shabby. After all, before President Zuma took over, nobody ever heard of the Guptas, and a couple of years later, they are appointing cabinet ministers and could land planes where they want to, they could also fly off like they want to, with who knows how many bags stuffed full with cash.

State capture, they were actually co-governing, Zuma and Gupta became Zupta, as their interests and desires became one and the same.

If you are aready doing this well, why not go for the mother of all heists, why not go for the biggest heists of all time, with one single transaction?

We need electricity, right? Russian nuclear stations will do just fine, and we already have a uranium mine called Shiva Uranium! [To see how the Guptas obtained Shiva, and turned an unprofitable mine they picked up for a song, into a R14.7 billion JSE asset read – Mailbox – The Great Zupta IDC con. Worthless Shiva now valued at R14,7 Billion]

The President’s first attempt at capturing and unlocking the treasury even further came on 9/12/2015, when he replaced a non-compliant Nhlanhla Nene, and the President thought he was home free. Nene had been resisting the third party middleman deal that Dudu Myeni, chairwoman of SAA, was proposing in a lease agreement with Airbus.

SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni. Picture: Twitter @Netwerk24

She wanted to use an unknown transactional advisor called Quartile Capital to advise a deal whereby an unknown leasing company [Guptas?], would own Airbus aircraft and lease it back to SAA.

It was a transparent attempt to make easy money, and was contrary to a deal already agreed with Airbus. Airbus themselves said they wouldn't accept it.

Nene was also resisting the Russian nuclear deal, on the grounds that we don’t have the money. When Zuma appointed Nene, i bet he never thought Nene would be that feisty.

That same night a triumphant Zuma declared that Africa is the largest continent in the world, and that it is not even separated by a river.

He thought that the Treasury was taken, without even a battle, without even a whimper.

He had stealthily installed the political dwarf Des van Rooyen, known to nobody, at the head of the Treasury, with two Gupta advisors in tow.

That was easy, he thought. In future, the Gupta advisors will prepare the blank cheques, and Des would sign.

Then the markets reacted. The rand tanked. As Alec Hogg calculated in an article, the JSE’s 17 biggest financial and property shares lost R290 billion in value. He worked out that bonds and equities combined lost at least R506 billion.The PIC, administering the pension funds of civil servants, lost R100 billion.

There were emergency consultations between top business figures and ANC figures. The business leaders warned of an economic meltdown. An ANC delegation was dispatched to Zuma, and he grudgingly caved in. Des became a “weekend special” minister, and the old hand Gordhan was re-instated as the FinMin to save the day.

He slowly but surely started to reverse the losses that 9/12 caused. He managed to avoid a ratings downgrade earlier in the year. He appointed a Chief Procurement Officer to fight tenderpreneur corruption. It came to light that the office of the Chief Procurement Officer had stopped a R378 million IT tender to a ANC benefactor, that could have been done at a fraction of the cost.

And here we are, 9/12 reloaded, with Zuma ready to shoot us in the other foot.

Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s finance minister, right, sits beside Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, left, in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: Halden Krog/Bloomberg

Zuma never accepted defeat, he just made a tactical retreat.There were rumours, in the Sunday Times, that Gordhan would be arrested before the elections, but that would have undermined the ANC’s chances in the elections.

Zuma knew he had to wait a bit.

On Tuesday the story broke that Gordhan had to present himself to the Hawks for a warning statement, the precursor to being arrested.

Zuma’s pawns in the Hawks had their marching orders, his yes man in the NPA personally overseeing the case.

A renewed campaign to capture the Treasury had been opened.

Read also: Who’ll replace Gordhan as finance minister? Four contenders

Just a day before Zuma announced that he would henceforth take personal control of all SOEs. His game plan was transparent though. Indict Gordhan on the so called SARS ”rogue unit ” allegations, planted in the Sunday Times by an ANC operative, Adv Rudolf Mastenbroek, through his ex-wife, and Sunday Times editor at the time, Phylicia Oppelt.

With Gordhan given a court date, Zuma would be able to claim that he would have to fire Gordhan because of the allegations against him. He would be able to say: as President I am obliged to uphold the law (cough, cough).

Never mind that the Sunday Times withdrew the ”rogue unit” story in the meantime, or that KPMG said their R23 million “rogue unit” investigation report cannot be used as evidence.

But with Gordhan gone, Zuma would have another chance of putting a yes man at the helm of the Treasury. Don’t worry, he will say. I have just the right man for the job – Brian Molefe is such an experienced hand. He ran Eskom and Transnet.

Never mind that under Molefe’s watch, Eskom opened the coal tender floodgates to the Zupta’s Tegeta company. Including a R586 million prepaid deal for Tegeta’s Optimum Coal.

Never mind that under Molefe’s watch, the Zupta VR Lazer company was included in the Transnet R50 billion locomotive tender in a very dubious way.

Or that under Molefe’s watch at Transnet, his CFO, Anoj Singh, and currently his CFO at Eskom also, facilitated a R100 million bribe to the letterbox company Homix, with a Gupta man involved, to facilitate a deal between Neotel and Transnet. [VR Lazer and Homix reports by M&G and amaBhungane]

So what will happen now?

This duel between Zuma and Gordhan has been decribed as a defining moment for South Africa. This duel has been simmering since December when Gordhan was appointed. But this time it is different. Lines in the sand have been drawn. This time the duel is to the bitter end. Only one will survive. Before long either Zuma of Gordhan will have fallen.

The outcome of the duel will depend who can garner the most support from us the citizens, who stand to lose the most.

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