On July 29 this year Eskom’s now suspended head of legal compliance, Suzanne Daniels, held a meeting with Gupta family ally and aide Salim Essa in Melrose Arch in Johannesburg.
Essa then took Daniels to another meeting in an apartment in the Melrose Arch complex. On entering she found herself in the company of Ajay Gupta, the paterfamilias of the Gupta family; President Jacob Zuma’s son and the Guptas’ servant-in-chief Duduzane; Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins and an unidentified Chinese woman. Martins has denied being at such a meeting. None of the others have.
These meetings were revealed when Daniels, a lawyer and commissioner of oaths, testified under oath at a parliamentary committee meeting last week looking at the capture of Eskom.
She remembers clearly where she was on July 29. Martins, who one would imagine has a diary and whose security detail keeps records of his movements, cannot recall where he was on July 29.
A week after she made her allegations, he has still not helped us with any useful information. What we do know is that he has also held other meetings at his house with the Guptas and leaders of state-owned agencies such as the disgraced Lucky Montana. I believe Daniels.
In that July 29 meeting, in which Atul Gupta wore “grey tracksuit pants, no shoes and a t-shirt”, it was made clear to Daniels that the men wanted the legal case challenging former Eskom chief executive officer Brian Molefe’s outrageous R30-million pension to be heard only after the ANC’s December elective conference. Gupta then boasted that he would “talk to someone in the deputy judge president’s office and make sure that the hearing takes place after December 2017”.
I am recounting this story not for what it shows – that the president of the country, his cabinet, his family and the Guptas are corrupt to the very core – but for the date on which this meeting took place. It was July 29. Yes, 29 July 2017.
This is after the incredible, damning, revelations in the Gupta e-mails. This is after all the other revelations of state capture by former public protector Thuli Madonsela. This is after stories had been published about the role of organisations like McKinsey, Trillian, KPMG, SAP and others in this sordid Zuma-Gupta corruption mess.
Yet you have a deputy minister in Zuma’s administration, Zuma’s son, and others implicated in the whole thing nonchalantly sitting in a flat in Melrose Arch talking about how they are going to influence the judiciary to favour Molefe, a man they refer to as their naukar – servant.
What it means is that Zuma and his cronies know that with everything we know, nothing will happen to them.
Every single institution that can do something to deal with them has been stolen. Last week you had the quite extraordinary spectacle of the Hawks laying charges against the author Jacques Pauw for his brilliant expose, The President’s Keepers. These are the same people who have done absolutely nothing about the Gupta e-mails and the breathtaking corruption detailed in them.
Zuma is a fantastically corrupt individual, as the Schabir Shaik trial confirmed and as his former comrade, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils shows in his new book, A Simple Man. That is why he has just appointed an equally fantastically corrupt individual, Bongani Bongo, as the Minister of State Security. Bongo will do absolutely anything for Zuma now, for without his corrupt principal he will go to jail. Meanwhile, at SARS and at the National Prosecuting Authority Tom Moyane and Shaun Abrahams have their fingers up their noses while Zuma and his cronies are breaking the law left, right and centre.
So here is what that meeting on July29 tells us. Zuma and his cronies are neither stirred nor shaken by the noise that the country is making about their corruption. Indeed, it tells us that they are now emboldened. They are now on a greater looting spree even than they were before. They are now ensuring that they have a pension in Dubai or whatever other rotten jurisdiction will take them if we can get rid of them.
It means the next few years will be far worse, in terms of corruption and the theft of institutions and parastatals, than the past eight years of Zuma’s rule.
The thief has been unmasked. But he doesn’t care. He is keeping the snout in the trough. And no one can stop him.