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Why Helen Suzman Foundation is protecting Pravin

If you’ve wondered about the link between the Helen Suzman Foundation and why it would undermine the Hawks and protect Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Mxolisi ka Nkomonde explains.


The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) sent an ultimatum to the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for these state institutions to notify it by noon on 5th September 2016 that “Minister Pravin Gordhan will not be arrested in relation to any of the alleged charges”. The Foundation has also said it would be consulting its lawyers to see what action it could take if the finance minister were to be arrested.

What is questionable about this ultimatum is that this foundation claims to be “promoting liberal constitutional democracy” and yet it never sent an ultimatum to auditing firm KPMG, Judge Frank Kroon and Advocate Musi Sikhakhane – who drafted initial reports on the South African Receiver of Revenue’s (SARS) secret intelligence unit which is now known as the “Rogue Unit” before the case was handed over to the Hawks by SARS – requesting a retraction or immediate release of some of the reports drafted since the matter was of public interest.

The Sikhakhane report was set up following media reports that SARS operated an intelligence unit. Former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene then appointed the SARS Advisory Board, headed by Kroon, to advise the minister and SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane on the allegations of the Rogue Unit. All three entities – Sikhakhane, Kroon and KPMG – found the establishment of the unit to be unlawful. Former SARS officials implicated in the establishment of the unit have always refuted the allegations and questioned the reports on the basis among others, that they had not been given the right to give their side of the story.

The most interesting part about the Helen Suzman Foundation is its donors and corporate members which secure hundreds of billions of business from Treasury which is currently led by Gordhan.

One of the corporate members of the Foundation is NM Rothschild & Son which has Trevor Manuel as Deputy Chairman of the South African operation. Coincidentally he happens to be a former head at Treasury from 1996 to 2009.

Some of other donors of the Helen Suzman Foundation also have an interesting history with South Africa going back to colonialism and the apartheid era. They are as follows:

  • E Oppenheimer & Son – Founder of hostels and labour concentration camps later dubbed “townships” and “locations”
  • ABSA – Implicated in the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) “lifeboats” corruption in the last years of apartheid and current. Its CEO is Maria Ramos who is a former Director General at Treasury and married to Trevor Manuel, the former Minister of Finance
  • Lord Renwick – Former Ambassador to South Africa from United Kingdom with business interests in South Africa which include large firms such as Remgro (Rupert) and South African Breweries
  • Investec – Does billions in business with Treasury and Gordhan’s daughter Anisha, is currently employed there in a senior executive position

What is puzzling about this foundation is its strong links to two former ministers who headed Treasury and its involvement in the ongoing SARS “Rogue Unit” saga. There are many questions that can be raised about Helen Suzman Foundation, its donors and corporate members which may include:

  • Is HSF protecting a patronage network rooted in colonialism and apartheid?
  • Is HSF undermining state institutions by sending an ultimatum to protect an individual?
  • Does HSF believe in our justice system which prides itself with the constitutional mandate of working without fear, favour or prejudice?
  • Have the donors and corporate members of HSF captured Treasury?

Helen Suzman was an anti-apartheid activist but being anti-apartheid doesn’t equate to being a driver for African liberation. As Oliver Tambo said: “Suzman and lesser agents of colonialism have turned Africa into a veritable hunting ground for stooges and indigenous agents of racism.”

Tokyo Sexwale said: “The real root causes of the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequity are located squarely on land hunger and the economy which still largely remains in the hands of a tiny minority within the White minority. Therefore liberating South Africa from country capture was only the beginning.”

To paraphrase Tambo and Sexwale is to ask if Gordhan is an indigenous agent for economic apartheid and whether HSF is defending the interests of its donors and corporate members whocaptured South Africa through colonialism to apartheid and up to this day.

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