While Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan returns home following a recall from the Uk by the presidency, a company belonging to the influential Gupta family has filed fresh court papers asking that the minister be personally held liable for the legal costs of the proceedings.
In its paper filed at the Pretoria High Court on Monday – just 24 hours before the Guptas and Gordhan are set to battle in court regarding South African banks – the Gupta-owned company Sahara Holdings sought an order that Gordhan be forced to personally foot the legal bills of all their court proceedings.
The reason given by the company was that Gordhan’s application was a political ploy and a waste of taxpayers’ money which means he couldn’t use the State Attorney as legal representative.
“It was brought to Sahara’s attention that given the pretense of the minister to litigate in his ex official capacity, but which litigation is actually for the personal political benefit of the minister, that the authority of the State Attorney to act was open to dispute,” read an affidavit by Sahara’s chief executive Stephanus Nel.
We could recall that the Finance Minister Gordhan filed an explosive affidavit in October 2016 where he flagged flagged 72 “suspicious and unusual” transactions which totaled R6.8-billion.
In the affidavit, Gordhan sought a declaratory order from the court so that he can not interfere in the Guptas’ troubles with South African banks which last year, severed ties with the family’s businesses. Gordhan’s case is against Gupta-owned company Oakbay Investments.
The new papers filed by the Gupta owned company brought a twist to the long-awaited court hearing on court’s decision on the minister.
Sahara claimed it was suspicious that Gordhan has continued with the matter even though it has been unopposed that he cannot intervene in the relationships between Gupta businesses and the banks.
“The minister’s conduct in this court, including attempting to score political points at the state’s expense, is deserving of such a sanction,” the company said.
“The state should not be saddled with the costs with what is, at its most, wasteful and unnecessary expenditure which ought to be recognized as political manoeuvring with an ulterior purpose.”the company said, accusing the minister of using the courts to wage a “political fight”, against the Guptas in order to embarrass them and finally destroy their business empire.
Sahara now insists that Gordhan must produce evidence of the proper appointment of the State Attorney and wants this application heard this morning before the actual case gets heard.
If Gordhan is not stopped by the court, he will be allowed to obfuscate the principal of separation of powers and impermissible co-opt this Court to aid him in his political fight with the President and the Cabinet, Sahara said
Meanwhile, the president, Jacob Zuma is said to have joined the fight against Gordhan. Aside a more pronounced internal war between the President and Gordhan, Zuma responded to Standard Bank, which filed a broader application against Gordhan to have the court declare that no part of the executive branch of government can intervene in banks’ relationship with clients.
Fin24 claimed Zuma wanted Standard Bank’s application struck off the court roll and following the cancellation of the National Treasury’s investor roadshow, fears are growing that Zuma will finally pull the trigger and have him replaced with former Eskom boss, Brian Molefe.
The Guptas have accused Gordhan of targeting their businesses before, but the minister hit back saying that it was the Guptas who were targeting Treasury officials, who have cast an observant eye on Gupta businesses since allegations of the family’s involvement in a state capture in President Jacob Zuma’s administration first emerged.