Will Rob Davies Be Chopped Following Meetings With Guptas

By Akuba Mokoena

TRADE & INDUSTRY Minister Rob Davies is the latest among the “clean” ANC cabinet members to have confessed that he has been in the company of the Gupta family many times. Ordinarily this should not be a problem but a meeting with the Guptas has come to signify being corrupt, and therefore a crime. The “clean” faction are those perceived to have avoided the Gupta capture but as things go, it may well be that there will not be anyone standing by the time the Zondo Commission comes to a close.

Does that mean that they are corrupt? Not necessarily. Businessmen and women meet government officials all the time with the intention of securing deals. The corporate world spends billions on government officials; “lobbying,” “entertaining,” “sponsorship of one event or another,” “board appointments” and the list is endless. All this is done with one goal; to influence the outcome of a tender or policy direction.

If you think billionaire businessman Johann Rupert gave Mario Ramos, who is the wife of former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, board seats on his companies for nothing, you need to have your head read. She’s now the chief executive officer at ABSA – that bank that owes the country R3.2bn looted as a lifeboat to Bankorp by the South African Reserve Bank. ABSA bought Bankorp in 1992 and inherited the loot. Ramos was appointed to the boards of Sanlam, Richemont and Remgro. Sanlam was the majority shareholder in Bankorp.

But coming back to Davies….

Duduzane Zuma, former President Jacob Zuma’s son and business associate of the Guptas, visited Davies in the company of Atul Gupta. Davies even attended the controversial wedding which saw the Gupta family use the Waterkloof air base to land an aeroplane carrying family guests from India.

In a written reply to a question by the DA in Parliament, Davies said during the visit to his home, Gupta had complained about a delay in the processing of an application for a mining project his company was involved in. “Mr Gupta told me that his company had spent a considerable sum on preparation of a feasibility study for a mining project, which had been submitted to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). He complained that the application was taking a long time to process and that they were in danger of losing the option to buy from the existing owners. If this happened, he said, hundreds of workers would lose their jobs”.

Davies said he took the matter of the delay to the IDC as he had done with many other such complaints and he was later told a team would be assembled to make a decision on the matter. He never received any feedback on the matter thereafter.

From what we can glean from his confession, Davies did far worse (in terms of what has come to be a crime in South Africa) than what former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene did. Meeting the Guptas has come to be defined as a crime punishable by losing one’s job.

Nene’s confession at the Zondo Commission into State Capture that he had met the Guptas, contradicting an earlier version that he had never met them, forced him to resign his job.

There hasn’t been the same outrage to Davies’s response and the question is whether he will be forced out of his job. And if he is saved, we will have to ask why!

Bad Precedent Set

In two separate articles published here, I argued that the era of McCarthyism was upon us –  just a mere meeting with the Guptas had come to signify a crime which warranted punishment. This we’ve seen not only with Nene but those seen as part of the Gupta state capture apparatus in state owned entities are being unlawfully dismissed from work. Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama is among the latest to be forced out of his job despite a court ruling instructing the Transnet Board to reinstate him and to follow due process. They didnt listen. Two days after the ruling, Gama learnt from media reports that he had been sacked.

In another, I expressed grave concern that there exists a checklist, developed by establishment media, to decide those “guilty”of state capture. Meeting the Guptas relegates one to the heap of the corrupt. In turn, those who have met them but want to save their reputations and jobs, have had to deny ever meeting them.

Those Seeking State Capture Inquiry Will Regret

APPROXIMATELY a year ago, former President Jacob Zuma issued a warning to those seeking an inquiry into state capture. Speaking in Parliament on 2nd November 2017, he warned that those seeking an inquiry into state capture were among the most corrupt and were pointing fingers at others.

“Even those who are most corrupt, they point fingers to others that they are corrupt. The truth will be found. If there are people who have said there was corruption before 1994 on the wealth of the state, on the properties of the state, so those who are calling for it, they are going to regret it,” he was quoted as saying.

Indeed, it would seem those who didnt speak out when frivolous terms were used to define corruption will themselves be the victims of that silence.

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