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State capture a sticking point for ANC top brass

While the party has previously said that it takes state capture seriously, it now seems as if the leaders disagree on whether its real or not.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in discussion at the ANC national policy conference at Nasrec on 30 June 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The issue of state capture seems to be taking centre stage as the African National Congress (ANC) prepares for its elective conference next month.

While the party has previously said that it takes state capture seriously and that President Jacob Zuma has agreed to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the allegations, it now seems as if the leaders disagree on whether its real or not.

This is secretary-general Gwede Mantashe speaking on the SABC just after 9pm on Monday.

“State capture is a reality and that debate is raging in society and the worst thing that we can do as the ANC is to dig our heads in the sand.”

Just two hours earlier, President Zuma spoke on news channel ANN7.

“What’s a state capture? It was all a fake political, just painting black a particular family and few individuals.”

And at around the same time, Ramaphosa said this at an ANC event in Soweto.

“State capture has definitely had very negative impact on the economy of our country, whether people want to accept it or not.”

With leaders clearly on different pages on this, it’s unclear how the issue will find expression at next month’s conference.

While Zuma has denied the existence of state capture, Eyewitness News has put together a list of facts that suggest otherwise.

• First things first. In 2016, then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released the state capture report titled the State of Capture - the name itself says a lot. Her report detailed several phone calls and visits to the Gupta family from government officials.

• Former deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas claims that the Guptas offered him the position of Finance Minister and R600 million. They even told him he could have the money immediately, provided he had a bag large enough to carry it.

• Zuma fired Nhanhla Nene as Finance Minister in December 2015 and told him he'd be deployed to the BRICS bank. That deployment has still not materialised.

• On the same day that Nene was fired, records also place Des van Rooyen (who was later named the new Finance Minister, but only for a weekend) at the Gupta's Saxonwold home on 8 December 2015.

• Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe called Ajay Gupta 44 times between August 2015 and March 2016.

• Cellphone records show Molefe was in Saxonwold 19 times between August and November - he claims he was at the Saxonwold shebeen, which to this day has not been found.

• During Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom, former Eskom CEO Brian Dames confirmed he was asked by former Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba’s adviser Siyabonga Mahlangu to meet with “some people” during his stint as CEO.

• In 2016, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor said the Guptas offered her the position of Public Enterprises Minister in 2010, while Zuma was in the other room, in exchange for a favourable business decision.

• Eskom’s suspended legal head Suzanne Daniels has detailed Eskom’s relationship with Gupta-linked Trillian and consultancy firm McKinsey.

• The Gupta leaks. An AmaBhungane and Scorpio expose reveals how the president’s friends and their associates diverted billions of rand from state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, Transnet and SAA to offshore accounts.

And despite the fact that Zuma does not believe in the existence of state capture, he has warned that those calling for an inquiry into state capture and using the term to play politics will regret it, saying that the inquiry will go after everyone involved in corruption.

‘I’M NOT CONFLICTED’

Mantashe said he doesn’t agree with the claim by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma's campaign that he is conflicted in his position now that he has been named on Ramaphosa’s slate.

Mantashe briefed the media on Tuesday following the party’s special NEC meeting.

Ramaphosa recently announced what he described as a winning team, which had the name of Mantashe as a possible candidate for chairperson of the party on his slate.

Dlamini Zuma’s campaign told Eyewitness News that Ramaphosa has put Mantashe in a difficult and untenable position, questioning whether Mantashe will be able to be neutral when presiding over the nomination process.

Mantashe has responded to this concern by dismissing it.

“Would they be equally concerned if I was a candidate? Three of the six officials are candidates, nobody makes any noise about that.”

WATCH: Gwede Mantashe dismisses rumours of his possible removal

He made reference to a government event that President Jacob Zuma attended in the Northern Cape, where the ANCWL campaigned for Dlamini Zuma.

“They were singing ‘We’re ready for Dlamini Zuma’. Nobody talks about that.”

Mantashe said he doesn’t understand why people are unhappy with his association with Ramaphosa’s slate.

ANC STALWARTS

Mantashe has distanced the party from a consultative conference organised by its own stalwarts.

The conference this coming weekend is expected to be attended by about 500 people, as the stalwarts hope the three-day conference will save the ANC from its demise.

The ANC stalwarts indicated last week that this consultative conference would be attended by the party’s branches and some ANC leaders, but the organisation itself says it has nothing to do with the gathering.

“The ANC has no national consultative conference.”

Mantashe also said whoever decides to attend won’t be representing the ANC.

“Anybody who goes there would be doing so as an individual member of the ANC.”

Mantashe wouldn’t say, though, if ANC leaders who decide to attend the conference will be branded factional.

Ramaphosa was accused of being divisive when he attended and addressed the MK Council gathering recently.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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