While outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela promises not to compromise her investigation report on the controversial state capture by Zuma’s allies, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan provided an affidavit of “suspicious” bank transactions by Gupta-owned companies totaling almost R7 billion.
The Court papers filed by the minister could further weaken people’s trust on President Jacob Zuma and make him increasingly vulnerable in a power struggle with his finance minister after a series of new allegations emerged about the business dealings of members of a wealthy family who are his friends and in business with his son.
Minister Pravin on Friday launched an application in the High Court in Pretoria in the latest development in the ongoing drama around the Gupta family and their alleged abuse of state resources.
The minister filed this wanting the court to declare that he has no obligation to helping the wealthy family in their battle with South Africa’s largest banks, all of whom had terminated their banking relationships with the Guptas and their companies earlier this year.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan revealed this while is face fraud charges amid growing support from senior government officials.
In his affidavit, Gordhan expresses his concern that the Guptas could have secured the rehabilitation fund, which according to law should only be used to bring back the SA environment back to life after a mine falls into disuse, for other purposes.
“If those funds from the trust were to (be) spent on anything other than genuine mining rehabilitation, it will expose the fiscus not only to the loss of tax revenue and also put the burden of mining rehabilitation on the fiscus,” argues Minister Pravin in his affidavit.
President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas are already the subject of investigation by the public protector over whether the family wielded undue influence over the government – what is popularly known by South Africa as “state capture.”
Both the Guptas, who plan to sell their South African assets, and Zuma deny any wrongdoing. The president is seeking a court order preventing the publication of the graft ombudsman’s findings.
Meanwhile, Thuli Madonsela has promised to keep the state capture report safely under lock and key in Parliament, ready to be given to her successor on Monday.
“The report was indeed received on Friday. The report is being kept by Parliament,” said secretary to the National Assembly Masibulele Xaso.
The report is expected to reach the new Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane who assumed office from Saturday.