CAPE TOWN – The leaked findings of an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on banks’ decision to break ties with Oakbay Investments suggest that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan would have been the real target of a judicial inquiry mooted by his Cabinet colleague Mosebenzi Zwane, the Democratic Alliance said today.
DA finance spokesman David Maynier said it was “terrifying” that the IMC recommended an inquiry to “consider the allegations against certain members of Cabinet and their abuse of powers and authority as well as the various banks or institutions in question as regards alleged collusion” or failure to comply with finance legislation.
He pointed out that this went well beyond the language of Zwane’s statement earlier this month that Cabinet had resolved to ask President Jacob Zuma to establish a judicial inquiry.
Cabinet distanced itself from the minister’s statement the following day and there have been calls for Zuma to censure Zwane.
“The leaked findings, therefore, suggest, for the first time, that the real intention behind the proposal to establish a judicial commission of inquiry was to target and investigate cabinet members for their role in the termination of financial services to Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd,” Maynier said.
“And it’s hard not to conclude that the cabinet member who would have been most likely investigated is the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, who correctly advised Oakbay Investments (Pty) Ltd, to seek relief in the courts.”
It was reported on Thursday that Oakbay’s public relations consultants, UK-based Bell Pottinger, knew since July that Zwane would recommend a judicial inquiry into banks’ decision to close the accounts of the firm belonging to the Gupta family. The family has for months been accused of yielding extensive influence over executive decisions, including influencing Cabinet appointments.
Despite the rebuke he earned for his false announcement, Zwane has repeated in the National Assembly that there was a need for an inquiry.