That the ANC met with banks over their decisions to close Gupta accounts is not new information, said the ANC’s former secretary general and now national chairperson Gwede Mantashe, adding that the meetings were held so the party could understand the reasoning behind the closing of the accounts.
He made the comments on the sidelines of trade union federation Cosatu’s 13th congress, currently underway in Johannesburg.
Earlier, Standard Bank head of compliance Ian Sinton told the commission of inquiry into state capture about two meetings; one with senior ANC officials and the other with an inter-ministerial committee over the decision by the country’s four big banks to stop doing business with the Gupta family.
Sinton claimed the meetings were aimed at persuading the bank to reverse its decision to close Gupta-linked bank accounts in 2016.
He revealed that in a meeting that took place at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters Mantashe, deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte and head of the economic subcommittee Enoch Godongwana asked if Standard Bank was a part of a “white monopoly capital” campaign aimed at destroying black business.
“I met the banks, that was public. So what is new?” asked Mantashe.
“We met the banks and the meeting with the banks was an open meeting. We don’t understand the hullabaloo that we talked to the banks. We did talk to the banks,” said the now ANC national chair.
Calls for those found guilty to be prosecuted
He also insisted that the ANC leadership respected what the banks had to say on the matter.
“The purpose of the meeting was for the ANC to have information,” he concluded.
The commission is looking into allegations that the Gupta family had undue influence over former president Jacob Zuma and his executive, which family members used to enrich themselves through the looting of state-owned enterprises.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa also mentioned the state capture commission during his keynote address at the Cosatu conference, telling delegates from the federation’s affiliates that the resolution at the political party’s December conference to support the establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture was one of the most important outcomes of that event.
“All those who are found to have stolen resources meant for the poor must be prosecuted and all stolen funds must be returned,” said Ramaphosa to loud applause on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses must tell the truth without ‘fear or favour’
The ANC itself also weighed in on having its leaders implicated at the commission. In a statement released on Monday through its spokesperson, Pule Mabe, the party reiterated its support for the work of the commission and said it would not give “running commentary about evidence or witnesses” who appeared before Deputy Chief Justice Zondo’s commission.
“Witnesses must be allowed to present their evidence without fear or favour,” said Mabe.
Mabe said the political party was continuing with its call for society and its own party members to approach the commission if they have evidence of any wrongdoing.