Editorial

We are waking from the Gupta nightmare, but it's time for the Hawks to act

There is a long list of incidents that show that Zuma has been the chief and active enabler of state capture

30 July 2017 - 00:02 By SUNDAY TIMES

The tide is slowly but surely turning against the Guptas. The recent suspension of two senior executives at Eskom — the state-owned entity that seemed to be transforming itself into a Gupta piggy bank — and the news that the National Treasury wants charges brought against those who broke the rules for the benefit of the family, all speak to the fact that the noose is tightening around the neck of state capture.
Even President Jacob Zuma's staunchest political supporters in ANC structures in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, long known for burying their heads in the sand when it came to scandals involving the president, have started making public pronouncements that indicate they are anxious to distance themselves and the party from the family.
There is hardly anyone now who denies that the Gupta e-mails, which this publication and others have been writing about for a while now, are authentic. And one would be hard-pressed to find any political figure opposed to the need for a commission of inquiry to probe state capture.
But the Guptas did not act alone when they turned state-owned enterprises, government departments and members of the cabinet into instruments for their wealth accumulation.
They succeeded mainly because of the men and women — elected public representatives, senior civil servants and executives — who made it all possible by bending the rules, turning a blind eye to wrongdoing and cajoling their juniors into doing favours for the family.
Chief among this category of culprits is the president himself.ANC KwaZulu-Natal leader Sihle Zikalala this week cautioned against "assuming" that Zuma was a Gupta "lackey" — suggesting that the family may have done things in the president's name but without his knowledge and approval.
But the facts paint a different picture. There is a long list of incidents — ranging from former government communications chief Themba Maseko being ordered by the president himself to meet the Guptas, to ministers being informed of pending cabinet changes by the family before the president made the announcements — that show that Zuma has been the chief and active enabler of state capture.
It is disingenuous, therefore, for Zuma's supporters in the ANC to ask the Guptas "to give" the ruling party "space" to govern, as if the brothers are interfering in state affairs without assistance from the highest office in the land.
The fact that, after so many months of revelation on top of revelation, none of the state law-enforcement agencies have taken any serious steps to investigate and act against the family and their collaborators is an indication that they have protection provided by the high and mighty.
While it is a positive sign that even the Guptas' most vocal defenders are now turning their backs on them, this should be followed by tough questions to the president and others who brought this shame upon our country.
Instead of the entire government folding its arms and waiting for the day on which Zuma decides to appoint a commission of inquiry as per the public protector's remedial action, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula should be demanding that the Hawks and other law-enforcement agencies immediately launch investigations that would lead to the criminal prosecution of those involved in state capture.
Failure to act now would mean that the little progress made, at least on the Eskom front over the past few days, could still be reversed as the culprits work behind the scenes to reassert their control. The agents of state capture are on the retreat: we dare not give them an opportunity to regroup and launch another assault on our democracy.

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