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Gordhan's Denel challenge: Prove you're not captured

At issue is Denel’s controversial Asian joint venture in partnership with a Gupta-linked company that is reportedly in financial difficulties.

FILE: Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Denel’s board has been challenged to convince Members of Parliament (MP) that it is not captured and serving the interests of Gupta families, rather than the national interest.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan led the charge after a presentation by the state arms maker to Parliament’s public enterprises committee.

At issue is Denel’s controversial Asian joint venture in partnership with a Gupta-linked company that is reportedly in financial difficulties.

Denel Asia has been prevented from trading by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown until Denel clears the way with Treasury.

The state-owned company has approached the High Court to get approval for the venture.

Board chairperson Daniel Mantsha says the joint venture is a business decision aimed at the aerospace company exploiting the lucrative Asian-Pacific market.

But Gordhan – now an ordinary African National Congress (MP) – sees a pattern of state capture.

“A change in the board, suspend executives, put in new executives, make sure that those are compliant people and then a particular set of deals/business activities continue. We see similar patterns here in the case of Denel.”

Gordhan also referred to the affidavit filed by former Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile in the court action by Denel to clear the way for the venture.

In it, Fuzile says the Gupta-owned VR Laser SA doesn’t appear to be able to raise the funds that would enable VR Laser Asia – owned by Gupta associate Salim Essa – to establish the joint venture.

Mantsha has told the committee that Denel is not captured.