Editorial: Evidence of state capture mounts

“The entire Eskom board was appointed by the Guptas!” a former Eskom director told us this week.

That was surely an exaggeration, but the web of influence that we expose in this edition gives some inkling as to why the former director might believe so.

It certainly shows a network of people, grouped around key individuals with demonstrable connections to the Saxonwold family, who dominate the board of Eskom and, to a lesser extent, Transnet.

The information we disclose is not proof of “state capture”, but it will sharpen the concerns of those worried about the undue influence of the Gupta family, adding bit by bit to what we know and what we suspect.

We trust the information will be followed up by the two probes so far announced: the public protector’s investigation into whether President Jacob Zuma breached the Executive Members’ Ethics Act through his relationship with the Gupta family, and the ANC’s own internal inquiry, led by secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

The ANC national executive committee’s decision to allow Mantashe to conduct a probe was an important victory for the faction of the party that is attempting to curb the excesses of Zuma and his allies, including the Guptas.

For, although the party cannot admit it openly, it is Zuma who has really been the locus and driving force of state capture.

Our exposé will hopefully also encourage more people with inside information to come forward to join Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and ex-government communications chief Themba Maseko.

There appears to be a queue forming. Former energy minister Ben Martins has indicated he will brief Mantashe and, as the former point man on Zuma’s nuclear ambitions, he will no doubt have a lot to say.

And the country’s top retired intelligence and military figures have added their voices to the call for an investigation.

As we report today, three former top spies and the ex-South African National Defence Force chief, Siphiwe Nyanda, are among 25 Umkhonto weSizwe stalwarts calling for an independent commission of inquiry to investigate “all claims of undue influence, especially by the Gupta family, on the ANC and on the state”.

Nyanda said: “There are many people that we think should come forward and give evidence.”

The voices of those, such as Nyanda, whose ANC credentials cannot be questioned, are vital.

That’s because the Guptas and the Zuma faction in the party have mounted a sophisticated spin campaign, aimed at convincing their supporters that questions about the Guptas are driven by “white capital” that fears being displaced.

White business barons such as Johann Rupert can and do exert influence on the government, but there is simply no equivalence with the picture of state capture that is beginning to emerge around Zuma and his cronies.

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