5 key moments during Gwede Mantashe's state capture Q&A

28 November 2018 - 07:35 By Ntokozo Miya
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe arrives to testify at the commission of inquiry into state capture on 27 November 2018, accompanied by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, head of ANC presidency Zizi Kodwa, and Krish Naidoo, who was acting as the party's legal advisor.
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe arrives to testify at the commission of inquiry into state capture on 27 November 2018, accompanied by deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, head of ANC presidency Zizi Kodwa, and Krish Naidoo, who was acting as the party's legal advisor.
Image: Masi Losi

On Tuesday it was ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe's turn to testify at the state capture inquiry. His focus was the aftermath of the closure of bank accounts belonging to Gupta-owned company Oakbay.

In 2016, Standard Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank and Absa ceased doing business with companies owned by the controversial Gupta family. Oakbay was one of the companies that were affected.

In September, the banks appeared before the state capture commission to explain their decision to cut ties with Gupta entities.

The position of the banks was that the accounts were deactivated because of "large, unexplained transfers" of cash.

Representatives of the different banks also told the commission about being invited to meetings with the ANC to discuss the Gupta bank account closures.

At these meetings, the banks claimed that they were strongly encouraged by politicians to reopen the Oakbay accounts so that the company would be able to pay salaries and avoid job losses. 

The general response from the banks was that they could not discuss client accounts with a third party.

When Mantashe took the stand at the inquiry, he wanted to "explain why the ANC had met with the banks" and "to clarify the confusion" surrounding those meetings.

Evidence leader, advocate Phillip Mokoena, guided Mantashe's testimony with questions, and the following are just 5 queries that were discussed.

Mokoena - How many meetings did you have with Oakbay?

"There were two meetings of Oakbay," replied Mantashe.

"The second meeting was more emphasising on the closure of accounts. The first one was more outlining what was the structure of the company and how it works."

Mokoena - What intervention did they seek from the ANC?

Mantashe responded: "Actually, many of the organisations they lobbied was to put pressure on the banks to reopen their accounts and they actually thought that we'll join in that campaign as the ANC.

"Oakbay itself came to the ANC, mainly emphasising the possibility of the loss of jobs. That is what appealed to us."

Mokoena - How did the ANC deal with this request which was made by Oakbay?

According to Mantashe, the ANC decided it couldn't "deal with this issue from one angle."

The party resolved to "get the views of the banks." 

Mantashe said that the meetings with the banks were meant to help the ANC to understand the circumstances that would lead financial institutions to close transactional company accounts.

The ruling party wished to know how "widespread is the practice of account closure", and if it could "be seen to be political."

Mokoena - Did the ANC make any promises to Oakbay?

"No, decisions were not taken," was Mantashe's answer.

"We listen. We get the information. We don't respond on the spot."

However, the ANC was concerned about job losses if Oakbay was unable to perform banking transactions and pay their workers.

Mantashe said that senior ANC officials adopted a "framework of principles" that the party would use as guidelines when interacting with the concerned banks about a solution to avoid job losses.

Mokoena - Can you now take us through those guidelines?

"The ANC must be mindful that the banks are not permitted to share information about their clients with a third party," Mantashe testified.

This is contrary to the testimony given by the banks.

The banks told the commission that ANC politicians attempted to discuss the Gupta accounts specifically, and that it was actually the banks that had to insist on maintaining privacy where client accounts were concerned.

Mantashe said he would avail himself to the commission at a future date to shed light on other issues related to the investigation into state capture, including witness testimony during which the ANC was mentioned.

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