The battle to capture the state continues - Times LIVE
Tue May 30 07:30:38 SAST 2017

The battle to capture the state continues

Times Editorial | 2017-01-24 08:17:06.0
Ajay and Atul Gupta. The Gupta family's Oakbay Investments opens 2017 with a legal salvo. Photo file.
Image by: MARTIN RHODES

Another year and another chapter of state capture, it seems, as the Gupta family's Oakbay Investments opens 2017 with a legal salvo in reply to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's application for a declaratory order preventing him from interfering in banks' relationship with the Gupta companies.

As our sister newspaper Business Day observes, the revived battle coincides with an increasingly familiar backdrop. This includes renewed speculation - and denials - of a cabinet reshuffle that would see Gordhan ousted, and a flurry of fake news social media accounts pushing an anti-Gordhan line.

This is similar in substance and strategy to what we observed in the build-up to the release, and in the fall-out from, the former public protector's State of Capture report.

It is clear that those who seek to hold the state captive are fuelled with new vim and vigour.

It's really not surprising, when we consider what little has happened since last year when it seemed for a brief, brilliant moment that rationality would prevail over self-interest and greed.

At one point it appeared the ANC itself was serious about ridding itself of captives. Anyone remember its internal inquiry into state capture? Predictably, nothing came of it.

The greatest hope came from Thuli Madonsela's report, which included a clever fail-safe that asked the chief justice to appoint a further inquiry into state capture and the possible role of the executive and others in it.

Unsurprisingly, Jacob Zuma is in the process of challenging that aspect while still insisting, of course, that he has no problem with an inquiry as long as he appoints it. Like he did with the lame-duck arms deal commission, perhaps?

It's no wonder the Gupta apologists are rallying again. The only succour for more sober citizens is that it seems Gordhan's moves are having some impact, as Oakbay's boss describes the billions lost since the state capture fightback began.

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