Jonas stands by Gupta state capture claims, is confident Treasury will win the Sars Wars

More than six months after he shook South Africa with revelations that he was offered a ministry job by the Gupta family, deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas is sticking to his guns, and remains positive that his boss, Pravin Gordhan, will come out of the ‘Sars Wars’ clean.

In late February 2016, Jonas rocked South Africa by issuing a statement confirming reports that the controversial Gupta family had met with him and had offered him the position of finance minister – prior to former minister, Nhlanhla Nene, being fired.

The damning statement led to a blow-out on state capture, where several other government officials came forward with similar stories of the Gupta family using their influence and friendship with president Jacob Zuma to manipulate government appointments and gain favourable contracts.

The talk of “state capture” soon became a focus point, as South African companies, including the big four full service banks blacklisted the family, and divisions within the ANC were laid bare.

The ANC initiated an investigation into the matter, calling for politicians with information about the so-called capturing of the state to step forward. Only a handful, including Jonas,  former MP Vytjie Mentor, and former government spokesperson Themba Maseko obliged.

Speaking to talk radio 702, Jonas said that he made a very detailed statement to ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe – however, Mantashe said there was nothing to investigate and terminated the investigation in June, as the party prepared for municipal elections.

Jonas also said that he had met with the Public Protector, and had also divulged his side of the story. The matter is ongoing, he said.

Fallout hits Treasury and Gordhan

The fallout from the Gupta saga is speculated – though widely accepted – to be the main driver behind the current Hawks investigation into minister Gordhan.

With  a lack of any legitimate charges against Gordhan, the belief is that the targeted harassment by the Hawks is politically motivated, with the intention to destabilise National Treasury.

According to Jonas, that is what is happening – but he remains optimistic about the outcome.

“We feel confident there is no basis for the allegation. We are not worried about that…If it is taken beyond the point that it is at‚ we are sure that we will come out very clean on the issues‚ so we are not worried about that‚” Jonas said.

“It does destabilise, not only Treasury, it creates uncertainties across the economy…It would be useful for this country to deal with this issue as quickly as we can,” he said.

For his part, Gordhan has maintained that he has cooperated with the Hawks’ investigation. When pushed by the Gupta companies affected by the banking blacklisting to investigate the matter, Gordhan recommended they approach the court – if they have nothing to hide.

More on the Guptas

Why the Guptas haven’t been criminally charged yet

New Gupta-linked state capture claims

Zuma, ministers named in Hawks Gupta investigation

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Jonas stands by Gupta state capture claims, is confident Treasury will win the Sars Wars