/ 8 November 2016

Rob Davies: Investors not dwelling on state capture report

The department of trade and industry will support the local industry to protect our mutual trade and economic interests, said Rob Davies.
The department of trade and industry will support the local industry to protect our mutual trade and economic interests, said Rob Davies.

Foreign direct investors have not bolted due to allegations in the public protector’s State of Capture report, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said on Tuesday.

“Foreign direct investors do not respond to those things very much. Nobody is withdrawing as a result of those developments,” he said on the sidelines of the Western Cape Manufacturing Indaba.

“In the early years, many commentators were not liking what they saw in China, but foreign investors had to go there anyway because the place was performing so well.”

He did not expect electricity supplies, so crucial to the manufacturing sector, to be adversely affected by the controversy over Eskom’s coal purchase agreement with a company part-owned by the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.

“I think it’s going to stabilise to a very high degree.”

Davies said South Africa, like other prudent countries, had a mix of energy generation sources to draw on.

The real problem for investors was administered charges, such as high port fees.

Flying the flag high for local manufacturing, he encouraged businesses to take advantage of the “fourth industrial revolution” – digitisation and robotics.

Sixty percent of the department’s R10-billion budget was going toward incentives and support for companies with strong localisation potential.

‘Gupta thing’
He lamented the high amount of electro-technology still imported into South Africa. Some of it was of poor quality and justified the imposition of import tariffs to protect local industry.

Asked later whether the Guptas had offered him his job, he replied testily: “You know, I’m not doing a Gupta thing. I was offered a Cabinet position, which I accepted in 2009.”

Zuma, his deputy, and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe had offered him his job, he said.

“I wasn’t offered it by anybody else,” he said.

Davies was among ministers interviewed for the State of Capture report, compiled by the public protector’s office when it was led by Thuli Madonsela.

Her successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, made the report public last Wednesday after Zuma withdrew a court application for an interdict to keep it under wraps until he had a chance to answer to the allegations.

Eskom contract
An accompanying transcript of an interview with Madonsela showed he was given the opportunity to say whether he had been in the proximity of the Guptas when they allegedly offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas the job of finance minister, and former MP Vytjie Mentor the job of public enterprises minister in 2010.

The Gupta brothers are founders and shareholders of Oakbay Investments, which has interests ranging from mining to media.

One of their businesses, Tegeta, landed a massive contract to supply coal to Eskom. Eskom’s power supply has stabilised without any prolonged power cuts for over a year.

Questions have been raised over whether Tegeta got the tender because Zuma’s son, Duduzane, was a shareholder in the company.

Madonsela’s investigators determined that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s phone signal was picked up in Saxonwold, where the Guptas live, and that there were 44 calls between him and the family. – News24