Gigaba maintains he opposes Denel-VR Laser deal

Cape Town – National Treasury on Friday confirmed that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is opposing Denel’s joint venture with VR Laser Asia as had previously been reported. 

He also asked the parties involved to refrain from making misleading public statements. 

Gigaba’s statement comes on the back of a Parliamentary briefing at which Denel board chairperson Daniel Mantsha contended its meeting with Gigaba some weeks ago had been “exploratory” and to address the Finance Minister’s concerns with the intended deal. 

READ: MPs give Denel chair Mantsha a drubbing

“National Treasury would like to place on record that Minister Malusi Gigaba held a meeting with the Denel chairperson Mr Daniel Mantshe to discuss the Denel Asia joint venture. At the meeting, Minister Gigaba reiterated his opposition to the joint venture with VR Laser Asia given the fragile financial situation that Denel is in,” the statement read.

“The Minister further invited Denel to withdraw its litigation against National Treasury. The position of the Minister of Finance has not changed in this regard. He remains opposed to the transaction for reasons stated elaborately in the National Treasury affidavit to court.” 

The Sunday Times previously reported that Gigaba had met with Mantsha on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa held in Durban in the first week of May, instructing him to deregister Denel Asia and dissolve the joint venture with VR Laser Asia.

Asked about his meeting with Gigaba in Parliament on Wednesday, Mantsha said the meeting with the Finance Minister was to address Gigaba’s concerns about the impasse between National Treasury and Denel over the joint venture. 

READ: 'Denel is not captured by anyone' - board chair

“The minister wanted to understand how the impasse can be resolved,” Mantsha told members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises. “The meeting was to explain to the minister where the noise was coming from, and the minister said he’ll meet with Minister (Lynne) Brown (of Public Enterprises) to formally discuss the matter.” 

Mantsha however did not want to elaborate on whether Gigaba told him to deregister Denel Asia and dissolve the joint venture with VR Laser Asia. 

“We can confirm the meeting took place, but the contents remain with the minister and us,” Mantsha said. 

Gigaba said at a media briefing on Tuesday following his budget vote speech in Parliament that he is yet to meet with Brown. 

READ: Court must dismiss Denel bid with costs, says Treasury 

He did however express concern over the fact that Denel approached the high court in Pretoria in a bid to compel Treasury and the minister of finance to approve the joint venture.

In Friday’s statement, Gigaba said that the matter between Denel and National Treasury is currently before the courts and that he won’t comment until the matter has been finalised. 

We hope that the other parties will also respect the court process and refrain from misleading public comments," Gigaba said. 

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