Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and former finance minister Trevor Manuel have decided they will pull strings everywhere and ruin the economy if needs be than give answers about an intelligence unit in South African Revenue Services (SARS) which was established while Gordhan was Commissioner and Manuel, the finance minister. Both signed the documents which established the unit which is now known as the Rogue Unit.
Last week Gordhan refused to appear before the Hawks to answer further questions having answered 27 previously. Even at the time when the first set of questions were posed to him, he took his time citing his workload ahead of the budget and later, his commitments with rating agencies and saving South Africa from junk status.
This week, Manuel weighed-in on the matter with a subtle threat to the Hawks: Arrest Gordhan and ruin SA’s economy. I wrote a piece advising that we needed to heed Manuel’s threat.
Manuel works for the Rothchild banking dynasty, his wife for Barclays and they have influential friends of the likes of Johann Rupert. We know how financial institutions buy and sell currency and can easily influence the fall and rise of the rand.
It is astonishing that there are voices, largely from white people, suggesting Gordhan is above the law.
Two or so days later, Futuregrowth Asset Management, owned by Old Mutual on whose board Manuel sits, decided it would suspend loans to several SOEs. Former Reserve Bank Governor, Tito Mboweni, tweeted that Futuregrowth’s decision could start a domino effect. Another lender swiftly followed. There’s a sense that more money managers condone the actions of Futuregrowth.
But where was FutureGrowth during the havoc at the power utility? What was its position when power outages which threatened SA’s productivity and its economy? And I do say in one of my articles that the loadshedding may have been deliberate.
The timing of the decisions is curious but exposes not only the hypocrisy of these lenders but more importantly, their ability to collude and influence economic stability. The finance minister has had running battles with Eskom and the announcement to pull the plug on SOEs followed shortly after the power utility’s CEO Brian Molefe answered tough questions in Parliament. Molefe has performed exceptionally well at the power utility. Eskom posted a R4bn nett profit, has transformed the organisation to include smaller black coal mines as suppliers, among many other positive outcomes since his tenure. “Eskom has available liquidity of approximately R38 billion and has secured more than 57% of its borrowing requirement of R69 billion for the financial year 2016/17,” its chief financial officer, Anoj Singh is reported to have said.
Transnet has also performed well in the last financial year. SAA remains a problem yes, but why lump all other SOEs in the decision if indeed issues of corporate governance are genuine?
The irony if not sheer travesty is that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) which is funded by Treasury, our money, has money in Old Mutual which owns Futuregrowth. So we have a situation here where our money is used to give or deny loans to our assets. In a country where the head of Treasury wasn’t embroiled in the scandal or fuelling it, he would pull the plug on FutureGrowth. But he wont, for he’s part of the problem.