15 June 2017

South Africa: Protect the Public, Not Zuma and Guptas, Maimane Tells Public Protector

Photo: allafrica.com
Top: Title image of former public protector Thuli Madonsela's "state capture" report. Bottom-left: Atul Gupta and President Jacob Zuma. Bottom-right: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane is unhappy with the scope of the provisional probe into state capture that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane announced late on Wednesday night, as is does not include President Jacob Zuma and others.

But two of the ministers and a deputy minister, whose names have cropped up in the tranche of leaked emails dubbed the #GuptaLeaks - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane,

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi - have all said that they would welcome the Public Protector's probe.

Maimane said in a statement on Thursday that the preliminary investigation was far too narrow.

"It only includes cherry-picked State Owned Entities, while ignoring the role played by Jacob Zuma, his Cabinet ministers, and the Guptas through their companies - as well as other SOEs," said Maimane.

As the initial complainant in the State of Capture report, he said he would write to Mkhwebane to indicate his objection to the "narrow investigation", and to request that she broaden the scope to include every single individual, company, and SOE implicated in the leaked emails.

These include ministers Zwane, Des Van Rooyen, Gigaba, Lynne Brown, and Faith Muthambi, as well as Free State Premier Ace Magashule, the Gupta-controlled companies Sahara Computers, Oakbay Investments, Mabengela Investments, Zestilor, Tegeta Exploration and Resources, and Elgasolve, and SOE's Denel and South African Airways (SAA).

Protect the public, not Zuma

Maimane said it appeared that the investigation had been crafted as narrowly as possible, to create the veneer of a state capture investigation, while at the same time protecting the real power brokers involved.

"The Public Protector has a duty to protect the public from the abuse of power, not to protect the President, his Cabinet ministers, and the Guptas," he said.

On Thursday, DA MP James Lorimer said that Zwane had failed to declare what appeared to be a Gupta-sponsored trip to India in 2012 in the declaration interests of members of the Free State legislature, where he served at the time. Zwane did not respond to this when asked after presenting the new Mining Charter to the media on Thursday morning.Zwane said he hadn't had time to look into the "Gupta leaks", as he was busy dealing with the Mining Charter. He said if he was allowed some time, he would read them and respond.

Gigaba, speaking at a press conference on the government's interventions on the recession, reiterated that he did nothing wrong in issuing a waiver to the Guptas to allow their naturalisation when he was still minister of home affairs.

He bemoaned information peddling and said there was a campaign against the ministers appointed in Zuma's late night Cabinet reshuffle on March 31.

'My family has not been spared'

He said the allegations against him were "completely to tarnish my name, completely to defer me from the work I have to do".

"My family has not been spared. My wife has been rubbished, my father, in his death, has been rubbished. It cannot be right."

At the same press conference, Buthelezi challenged those making allegations against him to provide proof, and said, in the 35 years he had been in public service, he had not done anything wrong.

"I'm not guilty of anything," he said.

Last week, News24 reported that Buthelezi and his brother had interests in companies that secured contracts worth at least R150m from Prasa and its suppliers. Buthelezi was board chairperson of the troubled state-owned rail operator at the time. The DA laid criminal charges relating to this.

Buthelezi said he was surprised that the allegations against him had emerged three years after he left Prasa.

"Sfiso Buthelezi will, at all times, be willing to co-operate with the law enforcement agencies. 24/7," said Buthelezi.

Source: News24

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