Two days after Des van Rooyen’s appointment as finance minister in December last year, his team leaked a confidential government document to close Gupta associates.
The cabinet’s master plan to avoid a ratings downgrade was leaked to key Gupta friends – even before Pres. Zuma and his ministers had seen the document .
The shocking details are revealed in a string of emails. The emails show how Van Rooyen’s special advisers, Ian Whitley and Mohamed Bobat, began an audacious takeover of the National Treasury almost immediately after the new finance minister took up his position.
Reports had it that Van Rooyen, until then an ANC backbencher, had visited the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, every day for the seven days before his appointment by Zuma on December 9.
Whitley and Bobat are believed to have accompanied Van Rooyen on his many visits to the compound. Whitley is ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte’s son-in-law.
The emails have surfaced in a court battle between Gupta-aligned businessman Eric Wood and his former partners at Regiments Capital.
The legal battle emanates from Wood’s departure from Regiments and his partnering with Salim Essa, a key business partner of the Guptas and Zuma’s son Duduzane.
The e-mails include a document prepared by the Treasury’s director-general, Lungisa Fuzile, for economics cluster chairman Gugile Nkwinti.
It details economic opportunities in Africa for South African companies, the effects of rating agencies’ decisions, a breakdown of government expenditure, matters to do with state-owned companies, corruption and perceptions thereof, beneficiation and mining, as well as South Africa’ s nine-point plan for an economic turnaround and each department’s contribution to it.
On December 12, just hours after receiving the document, Whitley shared it with Bobat and Essa’s former business partner Malcolm Mabaso, who was special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
He began the e-mail simply: “Gents, finally …”
Bobat then forwarded the e-mail to Wood, his former boss in the private sector, as well as another, unknown non-government e-mail address. Wood is CEO of Trillian Capital Partners, a company owned by Essa.
Government Communication and Information System spokesman Donald Liphoko said it was “unusual for government documents to be circulated outside of senior government officials and advisers”.
Trillian Capital Partners said yesterday that the allegations that Wood had received the confidential e-mails formed part of a dispute into which its board chairman, Tokyo Sexwale, has ordered an investigation.
Sexwale announced this month that an investigation would be carried out by Advocate Geoff Budlender SC regarding allegations made against Wood and Trillian Capital and its alleged involvement in state capture.
“The scope of the investigation covers some of the questions you have sent to Dr Wood and Trillian, which are highly disputed, and therefore, being the subject of investigation, we would advise that these matters be left to Mr Budlender’s investigation,” said Trillian.
Last month the Sunday Times reported that Wood told a subordinate in October 2015 that Nene would be removed that December.
Wood and Essa, Trillian’s majority shareholder, then reportedly conspired to influence Van Rooyen by suggesting eight initiatives he should champion as minister.
Ajay Gupta declined to comment and referred questions to spokesman Gary Naidoo, who had not responded by the time of going to press.
Read also : Breaking!! Des van Rooyen in fresh trouble.