SACP’s Jeremy Cronin: The truth on the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ between Zuma and Gordhan

South African Communist Party deputy secretary Jeremy Cronin has denounced the “parasitic looting and patronage networks that have penetrated into the uppermost echelons of the state and ANC”.

South African Communist Party deputy secretary Jeremy Cronin

Speaking at a memorial service in Cape Town for struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada‚ he asked what was behind the so-called “irretrievable breakdown” in the relationship between President Jacob Zuma and his former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

“Why the clumsy recall in midstream of comrade PG’s Team SA from London? Why the high risk cabinet re-shuffle? Why the inadequate consultation with the ANC’s Top officials‚” he asked?

“Perhaps there are dots to be connected ….”

Read his full speech at the memorial service below:

Our greetings to‚ and deep sense of solidarity with cde Barbara Hogan‚ cde Kathy’s life partner‚ with the Kathrada family‚ his close friends and all who loved and cherished a wonderful human being.

The SACP is proud of cde Kathy’s association with the Communist Party. It was as a 12-year old and as a member of the Young Communist League that cde Kathy first became politically active. Key mentors in his early development were outstanding communists like Dr Yusuf Dadoo‚ a leader in the Transvaal Indian Congress‚ and later SACP general secretary. After the unbanning of the SACP in 1990 and after his own release from prison‚ cde Kathy served on the interim national coordination committee of the SACP.

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When‚ months ago‚ cde Kathy politely advised President Zuma to step down‚ he did so not because of any personal animosity; not for factional reasons; not (obviously) because he was in the pay of monopoly capital‚ or part of some bogus imperialist conspiracy. He made the call not because he imagined that the challenges facing the ANC and the broader movement would be simply solved by a stepping down on its own.

Cde Kathy made this call out of deep concern for the ANC‚ for its proud legacy‚ for the movement and the struggle to which he devoted his entire life.

He did it out of a strong moral repugnance for the parasitic looting and patronage networks that have penetrated into the uppermost echelons of the state and ANC.

He did it not just for the ANC and the movement – but for the future of our country and our hard-won constitutional democracy.

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The SACP aligns itself fully with comrade Kathy’s call and the principles that underpinned it.

As the SACP we have taken note of the ANC’s National Working Committee statement issued yesterday. The statement indicated that the ANC wishes to engage once more with the SACP. We look forward to such a meeting and we promise to stand our ground on the principles with which we engaged the ANC’s Top 6 in our bilateral on Monday last week.

It was in that bilateral that we were told by President Zuma that he intended to axe cde Pravin Gordhan. We indicated our strong disapproval. It was in this meeting that we heard for the first time about the “intelligence report”‚ alleging treasonable activities on the part of cde PG. We immediately questioned its status and provenance. The SACP has referred this bogus report to the Inspector General of Intelligence‚ requesting that its origins be investigated and those responsible exposed.

The NWC has now indicated that it was a mistake for the so-called Intelligence Report to have been the basis for the abrupt and clumsy recall from London of cdes PG and Mcebisi Jonas‚ and outgoing DG Lungisa Fusile. But the NWC has accepted that the “irretrievable breakdown” of the Zuma-Gordhan relationship was a “good enough reason” for cde PG’s axing.

But surely it is only “good enough” if we are also told WHY there was an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship.

If there was a breakdown because cde Gordhan refused to rubber stamp an unaffordable and unneeded multi-multi-billion rand nuclear energy programme that would benefit a select few….

If there was a breakdown because cde PG refused to intervene with the banks on behalf of the Gupta family to re-open bank accounts….

If there was a breakdown in the relationship because cde PG stood his ground when the NPA and Hawks were unleashed against him…

If there was a breakdown because cde PG exposed the REAL rogues in SARS….

If the breakdown was related to cde PG’s refusal to turn a blind eye to what was happening in the boards of SAA‚ Eskom‚ Denel and others…

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If THESE were the reasons for the “irretrievable breakdown” in the relationship – then it is not acceptable for the ANC NWC to say blandly that they accept President Zuma’s grounds for firing cde PG. That would be a betrayal of all the values and principles of the ANC.

We now know from yesterday’s NWC press conference that President Zuma had already told the officials in November 2016 that there was an irretrievable breakdown in his relationship with cde PG. So why was there the sudden flurry of events last week?

The bogus intelligence report appears to have been concocted to justify the sudden and clumsy move of recalling cde PG‚ his deputy minister and DG in the middle of a cabinet-sanctioned‚ international investor roadshow.

But why last week?

Last week there were two notable court cases involving the financial sector. Both were connected to the Gupta business empire. The first was fairly widely covered. It was the case brought by cde PG for a declaratory order to say that the Minister of Finance cannot intervene on the part of private parties‚ the Gupta family and associates‚ in a private banking matter.

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The second case was less covered – but possibly even more indicative of what might have been afoot last week. Last year all the major South African banks closed the banking accounts of Gupta related companies. In February the Bank of China closed the Gupta-linked VR Laser Asia bank account. Baroda Bank of India is reported to have set last Friday as the deadline for closing Gupta accounts.

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And so‚ with Gupta accounts running out of options‚ another Gupta-linked company‚ Vardospan‚ has been attempting to purchase Habib Bank. Last week‚ Vardospan took the Reserve Bank and cde PG to court on the grounds that they were “blocking” the purchase. Vardospan indicated that the current owners of Habib Bank had given them March 31 deadline (again March 31 comes up) to get the go-ahead from the Reserve Bank.

The Reserve Bank in the court papers indicated that it was impossible for it to give the green light until there was clarity on the source of the funding for the purchase. The Reserve Bank in particular singled out the dodgy Tegeta-Eskom deal‚ indicating that although Tegeta was indicated as one source of the funding for the proposed purchase‚ there was a refusal to be transparent about Tegeta’s financials.

The court threw out the Vardospan application.

So why the sudden rush last week? Why the clumsy recall in midstream of cde PG’s Team SA from London? Why the high risk cabinet re-shuffle? Why the inadequate consultation with the ANC’s Top officials?

Perhaps there are dots to be connected?

And this goes to the heart of the crisis we are facing as an ANC‚ as an Alliance‚ as a constitutional democracy. If elected and collective leadership is by-passed in critical decisions‚ whose content and timing are seemingly determined outside of cabinet‚ outside of parliament‚ outside of the NEC – then we are in trouble.

We call for:

The immediate implementation of the Public Protector’s requirement that an independent judicial inquiry be established to investigate the financial links and dealings between all public entities and the Gupta family and companies associated with them.

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Lifestyle audits for all ministers‚ deputy ministers‚ DG’s and board members of state owned companies.

The revoking of the citizenship and residential rights of the Guptas.

Dealing decisively with the REAL under-performers in government.

And therefore‚ to create the conditions in which these crucial steps can be taken‚ we believe President Zuma should step down.

— Tiso Black Star Group

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