Still fighting after all these years
“My Twitter’s been going haywire, all lies and smears. It’s a relentless attack, fabricated pictures of me and my wife Elizabeth in bed, pictures of me and Anton Rupert. I mean I’ve never even met Mr Rupert. Honestly, I don’t really mind. It’s so crude, infantile,” he said.
Hain noted that the Zuptabots were outliving their creators at Bell Pottinger, which has virtually shut after the scandal. In September, the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association announced it had stripped the company of its membership for bringing the PR industry into disrepute.
“I find it kind of interesting, so the Bell Pottinger machine is still operating, even though they closed down ... an algorithm of sorts.”
In the letter before the UK Parliament, Hain writes: “Having recently visited South Africa, it is clear the country is gripped by a political, economic and social crisis, precipitated by a vast criminal network facilitated by an Indian-South African family, the Guptas, and the presidential family, the Zumas.
“It became clear to me that [this criminal network] is not localised to South Africa – indeed it has been enabled by a transnational money laundering network that these individuals have established.
“I have deep concerns and questions around the complicity, whether witting or unwitting, of UK global financial institutions in the Gupta/Zuma transnational criminal network.”
Further statements by Hain to the House of Lords link the Guptas and Zumas to two major British banks, HSBC and Standard Chartered.
On Monday, the house ordered the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, the Serious Fraud Office and National Crime Agency to scrutinise Hain’s allegations.
Hain says they are “certainly being investigated very thoroughly” and there will be more developments – private and some in public. Hain, who served in the cabinets of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, grew up in Pretoria, where his antiapartheid activist mother Adelaine sneaked soup and chocolate bars to former deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, then 15 years old and on trial. Adelaine, now 90, feels deeply betrayed by South Africa’s corrupt government, Hain said.
“This is not what my mother, Mandela and thousands of others fought for. My parents, they sacrificed everything, and for what – this mafia-style criminality?”
At Hain’s UK Parliamentary office in Westminster, a framed 1994 election poster of Nelson Mandela for president is behind his desk. It was a gift from Walter Sisulu.
“He [Mandela] keeps an eye on me as he did also when I was a British government minister,” Hain says.
Born in 1950, Hain’s first childhood memory of something greatly amiss in South African society was when apartheid special branch officers barged into his room. “When I was 10 years old, I woke up at 4am to the special branch searching the bedroom where my brother and I slept. There were a lot of them, definitely armed. Mostly they searched my collection of motor car files for incriminating evidence – which they did not find, of course.”
Aged 11, Hain watched helplessly as his parents, Adelaine and Walter, were arrested. They were jailed for two weeks without charge. The next year, Adelaine attended Mandela’s first trial at the Old Synagogue in Pretoria, the only white person in the whites-only gallery. That evening at home, she told her family how, when Mandela entered the dock, he raised his first to salute her, a gesture she returned.
Adelaine and Walter and their four children fled to London in 1966, where Hain became an anti-apartheid activist. He understood the white South African psyche and knew how to hit them where it hurt most, and set about spearheading a campaign to prevent whites-only sports teams from competing internationally.
The apartheid government continued its campaign against the Hain family. In 1972, South African foreign intelligence sent a letter bomb to their home in Putney. In his memoir Outside In, Hain recalls how his sister Sally opened it.
“Recessed into a thick sheet of balsa wood were hideous metal cylinders and terminals with wires protruding,” he writes. “We sat transfixed, expecting it to explode, seconds seeming like ages. Yet nothing happened.”
Now, Hain is astonished and saddened by the latest developments in South Africa’s history.
“I used to support the new South Africa. I never expected that I would have to intervene in this manner.” Lord Peter Hain
by Bienne Huisman in London
SADDENED Lord Peter Hain has asked that British banks be investigated for their links to the Guptas, and President Jacob Zuma and his family