It goes on to knit a con­spir­acy that the Trea­sury is not be­holden to the gov­ern­ing party, but to white busi­ness in­ter­ests

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De­cem­ber 9 earns the moniker “9/12”, af­ter the US World Trade Cen­ter at­tacks named 9/11, which Trea­sury staff also ex­pe­ri­enced as an apoc­a­lyp­tic day. The term sticks, al­though dif­fer­ent date for­mats means South Africa’s 9/12 is in De­cem­ber and the US’s was in Septem­ber.

One of­fi­cial de­scribes what hap­pened over the next few days as “an at­tack”. The peo­ple who swooped in with Van Rooyen “came in with the ap­proach that ‘we’ve taken charge’,” says an­other of­fi­cial.

We meet al­most a year later, and he is sleep­ing so much that his doc­tor tells him it is be­cause of post­trau­matic stress from a tough year at the Trea­sury.

The Trea­sury’s of­fi­cials are mostly braini­acs with long ex­pe­ri­ence in pub­lic fi­nance man­age­ment, of­ten with mul­ti­ple de­grees and with an al­most zeal­ous at­ten­tion to the in­tegrity of pub­lic fi­nances. They say “no” more of­ten than “yes”, which makes them few friends in the bu­reau­cracy. Nev­er­the­less, South Africa is most of­ten re­warded on global rank­ings for the qual­ity of pub­lic fi­nance and na­tional debt man­age­ment.

Th­ese four days in De­cem­ber started the as­sault on the Trea­sury and the cap­ture of key state in­sti­tu­tions that was to fol­low. Over the fol­low­ing year, the anatomy of South Africa’s cap­ture by a net­work of Mafia-like in­ter­ests is ex­posed, and days later an anti-cor­rup­tion move­ment is born.

The move­ment has sup­port in the ANC and it ended this week with the pres­i­dent fac­ing a re­volt in what had al­ways been his clear do­main: the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, the party’s nerve cen­tre and in­ner sanc­tum. He has sur­vived, but the ANC is shred­ded by state cap­ture and the pri­vate in­ter­ests that have come to in­flu­ence pol­icy and pol­i­tics.


To un­der­stand state cap­ture, we have to go back fur­ther than De­cem­ber last year. A doc­u­ment ti­tled Project Spi­der Web crawls into the pub­lic. It sur­faces in June last year from the email ad­dress of Dudu Myeni, who is the chair­per­son of both SAA and the Jacob Zuma Foun­da­tion. The 27-page doc­u­ment al­leges a mas­sive


con­spir­acy the­ory hatched in Stel­len­bosch and funded by apartheid busi­ness barons such as the Ru­pert, Op­pen­heimer and Roth­schild fam­i­lies.

It reads: “The white es­tab­lish­ment through the pri­vate sec­tor has a huge in­flu­ence in the run­ning of the Na­tional Trea­sury ... The white es­tab­lish­ment felt it was too risky to leave the run­ning of the govern­ment solely in the hands of the ANC.” And so it goes on to knit a con­spir­acy that the Trea­sury is not be­holden to the gov­ern­ing party, but to white busi­ness in­ter­ests.

For­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Trevor Manuel, who is at the cen­tre of the al­leged con­spir­acy, laughs it off be­cause the doc­u­ment is a con­fec­tion of bad spelling and worse gram­mar. But Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han takes it more se­ri­ously, with the themes of the doc­u­ment emerg­ing again and again this year and Trea­sury get­ting at­tacked and crit­i­cised in Cabi­net as it keeps paras­tatals on a tight leash.

Trea­sury guar­an­tees R400 bil­lion in spend­ing by sta­te­owned en­ter­prises – mak­ing it a honey pot.

Though in life-cy­cle de­cline, com­modi­ties are also a honey pot. As Madon­sela’s re­port would re­veal, min­ing and the grant­ing of min­ing li­cences is at the heart of the story of cap­ture.

South Africa is still coal coun­try, both for the ex­port value of black gold, but also be­cause it fires the power sta­tions that keep the econ­omy go­ing.

In Septem­ber 2015, months be­fore Nene is axed, ANC veteran Ngoako Ra­matl­hodi is dethroned and re­placed as min­ing min­is­ter by Mosebenzi Zwane, a pro­vin­cial min­is­ter from the Free State. At the time, ANC mem­bers raise con­cerns about his links to Gupta fam­ily in­ter­ests in the province. In De­cem­ber last year, Zwane helps fa­cil­i­tate big coal deals for the Gupta fam­ily, jet­ting with them to Switzer­land to meet Glen­core to buy the Op­ti­mum Mine, while Eskom gives the mines it buys pref­er­en­tial terms, re­ports show.


Forty-four days be­fore Nene is fired, an ex­ec­u­tive in Illovo, Joburg, is fu­ri­ously scrib­bling an im­por­tant email on the morn­ing of Oc­to­ber 26. It is from Eric Wood to Salim Essa.

Later in the year of cap­ture, the two will emerge as key lieu­tenants who are fab­u­lously en­riched by var­i­ous con­tracts and deals that the Gupta fam­ily fa­cil­i­tate for them. In the email, Woods writes: “As dis­cussed, I have quickly jot­ted down a few points for the FM. Th­ese are not com­pre­hen­sive – in time, I’m sure I can de­velop a more com­pre­hen­sive list.”

FM is short for fi­nance min­is­ter and Nene has con­firmed to City Press that the doc­u­ment, an eight-point work plan, was not com­mis­sioned by or for him.

A sep­a­rate whis­tle-blower re­port re­veals that later that morn­ing, Woods briefed staff at Reg­i­ments Cap­i­tal, the as­set man­age­ment com­pany he and Essa own (later he and Essa would break away to form their own cap­i­tal ad­vi­sory com­pany, Tril­lian), and told them Nene would be re­placed.

Even be­fore Nene is axed, this pri­vate sec­tor fi­nan­cial whiz, who once worked at In­vestec, sees how money could be made by the ouster.

The whis­tle-blower writes: “[On] Oc­to­ber 26 2015 I was in­formed by my di­rect line man­ager, Eric Wood at Reg­i­ments Cap­i­tal, that the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of South Africa was go­ing to re­place Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene. He sub­se­quently sent me an email out­lin­ing Na­tional Trea­sury’s new ini­tia­tives and his pro­posed fees for each ini­tia­tive that he had drafted.”

The whis­tle-blower con­tin­ues: “On De­cem­ber 9 2015, the morn­ing af­ter the pres­i­dent had made the an­nounce­ment to re­place Nene with Des van Rooyen, Eric Wood in­formed me that Mo­hammed Bo­bat would be the new fi­nance min­is­ter’s spe­cial ad­viser. Bo­bat was a prin­ci­pal at Reg­i­ments Cap­i­tal…”

Bo­bat ar­rives at the Trea­sury on the morn­ing of Fri­day, De­cem­ber 11, as much a stranger to Van Rooyen as he is to the shocked of­fi­cials. The freshly in­au­gu­rated min­is­ter and his ad­viser ex­changes num­bers, in­di­cat­ing a new re­la­tion­ship. Bo­bat ar­rives at Trea­sury with Ian Whit­ley, who is ANC deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jessie Duarte’s sonin-law, and with Mal­colm Mabaso, who is a busi­ness part­ner of John Duarte, Whit­ley’s fa­ther-in-law.

Mabaso’s mother, Linda, is the chair­per­son of Transnet

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