Let's Think

Misuse of system – Guptas let cat out of the bag

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The controversial Gupta family let the cat out of the bag badly, illustrating that justice is not their main concern, but rather playing for time while heaping costs on South African taxpayers.

Through their family lawyer they arrogantly cocked a snook at one of the country’s most important Chapter 9 watchdog institutions, the Public Protector (PP). Their lawyer declared they have no fear of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into state capture being released. They will challenge it and have it under review for at least two years.

The lawyer argued that the report, which largely centres around the alleged improper relationship between them and their business interests and President Jacob Zuma, will have no legally binding effect while the review process is ongoing.

Their target of keeping the review process going for two years, coincidently (?) will take it past or close to the sell-by date of their patron-in-chief, President Zuma. If not removed from office by the African National Congress by then. Constitutionally his final term will come to an end with the general election scheduled for 2019.

It was reported in May this year that the Guptas have already set up an alternative 10-bedroom family compound in Dubai. At the time it was reported that the villa had been listed on the market with an asking price of R448 million.

It came at the time when South Africa’s biggest banks and top professional service providers were severing their ties with the Gupta flagship company, Oakbay Investments.

Ironically, in recent times, again through their family lawyer, the Guptas were accusing Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan of wasting taxpayers’ money by approaching the court with the request to declare that he cannot interfere in the relationship between Oakbay and the banks – something about which the Guptas have been harassing him for some time.

Fact is, however, that if they succeed to tie up the PP’s state capture report in a two-year long review process in the courts, it is also going to cost the taxpayer millions. In both instances the controversial family is at the core of the issue at hand.

Bigger issue

As we report elsewhere, the situation that has developed around the relationship between President Zuma and the Guptas and the myriad of controversies the president got himself involved in, dating back to the weapons procurement programme and his election as leader of the ANC in 2007, has spawned court case after court case.

In June of this year it was reported that Mr Zuma’s legal costs alone over the past decade exceeded a billion rand. It is a cost that the South African taxpayer can hardly afford with all the social and infrastructure needs.

There is under prevailing judicial procedures also the implication that full utilisation of available legal procedures is only possible for those with either deep pockets or access to unlimited kitties – which also makes possible the misuse of processes for ulterior motives. 

We think

We think the time has come for a proper review of these procedures. An early evaluation on the probable outcome of a court application, with well-defined checks and balances, is something that should be considered.


by Piet Coetzer

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