Jobs for Gupta pals: the Gigaba-Brown link revealed

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South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba attends a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa April 4, 2017.
South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba attends a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa April 4, 2017.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his successor as Public Enterprises minister, Lynne Brown, peppered state-owned companies with Gupta family associates and connections.

Leaked e-mails detailing the Gupta family's interactions with key government ministers and officials have shone the spotlight on Gigaba's role - whether witting or unwitting - in the capture of the South African state.

They also appear to add credence to a report on state capture by the Public Affairs Research Institute, released before the e-mail leak, which painted Gigaba as a central character.

Gigaba has dismissed the claims and declined to comment further on them when approached by The Times again on Monday.

Brown's spokesman, Colin Cruywagen, said Brown had "repeatedly called for further investigation of allegations raised in the State of Capture report - to spare state-owned companies further reputational damage.

"Recent pronouncements on this matter by the ruling party, the president and the Hawks will come as a great relief to state-owned companies."

Koffi Kouakou of the Wits School of Governance said it was clear from the actions of ministers such as Brown and Gigaba that South Africa had a governance crisis.

"It's clear that Gigaba and Brown have committed serious oversight blunders, breaching rules of ethical governance whose behaviour borders on crimes of governance.

"There were rules they knew of which they should have followed, which they didn't."

The Gupta family has benefited from numerous multibillion-rand state power and infrastructure projects at entities where their associates and allies were appointed by Gigaba and Brown.

The projects include the provision by China South Rail of locomotives for Transnet, which saw the Guptas secure R5.3-billion in alleged kickbacks.

The door to state deals, or special favours for the Guptas, seems to have been opened from the moment Gigaba was appointed Public Enterprises minister in November 2010 and continued until his move to Home Affairs in 2014.

Gigaba appointed directors - now known to be connected to the Guptas - to arms manufacturer Denel, Eskom and Transnet.

A regular character in the Gupta links to these directors is associate Salim Essa, who has in the past shared co-directorships with many of those appointed to sit on the boards of Eskom and Transnet.

They include:

  • Iqbal Sharma: Gigaba appointed him to the Transnet board in December 2010 and attempted to appoint him as chairman in June 2011 but it was vetoed by the cabinet because of his links to the Guptas. Gigaba then created Transnet's acquisitions and disposals board to supervise infrastructure tenders valued at over R2.5-billion and appointed Sharma as the chair who oversaw R25-billion in tenders awarded to China South Rail;
  • Brian Molefe: Gigaba appointed him Transnet CEO in February 2011 where he signed off on the CSR locomotive tender, among others. When the Guptas acquired Optimum Coal, which supplied the utility with coal, Molefe was CEO of Eskom and oversaw the process. His role in that was questioned in public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report;
  • Anoj Singh: Gigaba appointed him Transnet CFO in July 2012. He and Molefe signed off on Gupta-linked Transnet contracts. Brown oversaw his appointment as Eskom CFO in October 2015;
  • Mark Pamensky: Brown appointed him to Eskom's board in March 2014. Until May 2017 he sat on the Oakbay board. He resigned as Eskom director in November 2016 after the release of the State of Capture report. He denies any impropriety;
  • Viroshini Naidoo: Gigaba appointed her to the Eskom board in June 2011. Her husband, Kuben Moodley, is special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, whose links to the Guptas have been widely reported;
  • Ben Ngubane: Brown appointed him to Eskom's board in December 2014. He was a co-director with Essa of natural resources exploration company, Gade Oil and Gas;
  • Romeo Kumalo: Brown appointed him to Eskom's board in December 2014. Kumalo resigned in April 2016. He was a co-director with Essa in Ujiri Mining;
  • Nazia Carrim: Brown appointed her to Eskom's board in December 2014. She is married to Essa's cousin, Muhammed Noor Hussein;
  • Thamsanqa Msomi: Currently adviser to Gigaba. Leaked e-mails show he was the alleged middleman between Gigaba and Gupta family associates seeking visa favours for their associates from Home Affairs. Msomi denies acting irregularly. Brown later appointed him to Denel's board in 2015; and
  • Collin Matjila: Gigaba appointed him to Eskom's board in June 2011 where he chaired the tender committee and irregularly signed The New Age breakfast sponsorship benefiting the Guptas, which helped them start their TV station, ANN7. He allegedly pushed for a "balance sheet optimisation contract" in which Essa's Trillian company stood to score more than R400-million by reclassifying the prices of Eskom's coal resources.
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