Featured Image: Employees of Gupta owned Oakbay Investments marched recently to major banks. Photo: Mail&Guardian
By BO Staff Writer
In a bizarre turn of events the CEO of one of the Gupta owned companies Sahara, Stephan Nel, opened a case of intimidation at the police station in Midrand. This follows a threatening anonymous call to Nel’s office which warned against any further attempts to get the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, involved in trying to resolve the crisis that prevails in Oakbay (the parent company) since April when banks illegally closed its accounts. Nel is an Afrikaner male who is intimidated only because he is employed by the Guptas.
The closure of the bank accounts have put Oakbay in a very difficult position. The consequences have already been felt by 140 workers who had to be laid off. The job security of the 7 500 workers employed by Oakbay are now under serious jeopardy. The threatening call seems to have been instigated by the fact that four of Oakbay’s executives had called Power FM and pleaded with Gordhan, who was on the show, to intervene in the ongoing saga with the banks. Gordhan had then under protest opened up the possibility of further discussion with Oakbay to find solutions. It is this which seems to have aggravated the caller.
The big question is who is so hell-bent at making sure that the Gupta family business doesn’t return to its normal operations? A related question must be who is so heartless that they don’t care for the well being of 7 500 workers who are facing possible layoffs? The answer points to white capital which has monopoly in the strategic sectors such as coal and sees the Guptas as unwanted competition.
The attack on the Gupta businesses by white capital took, in the main, three approaches. First was the political mobilisation and direct threats which led to the Gupta family seeking and being granted a court order against the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which was in the forefront of the #Guptamustgo campaign. This campaign was launched following the EFF’s top leaders’ London tour which is alleged to have been funded by a SA bank. In London they secretly met representatives of the Queen including representatives of British capital with deep business interests in South Africa.
The second strategy was to undertake a media campaign to project the Guptas as being involved in “State Capture”. This campaign was to mobilise disgruntled ANC leaders such as Vytjie Mentoor and Mcebisi Jonas whose lies were carried by the white owned media as the truth. These two leaders in particular had made claims of being offered jobs by the Guptas but failed to provide the ANC special process with any information or evidence to corroborate their claims. Part of the media campaign was to try to incite an anti-Indian and xenophobic sentiment in society so as to ensure the isolation of the Guptas. All this had been done to ensure that white capital remains in charge.
The third strategy was to ensure closure of the bank accounts of the Gupta owned companies. The Gupta businesses have not fallen as it was expected. And now it looks like strategies akin to the Colombia Criminal Cartels are being activated. As things stand, only government through Treasury can get the banks to re-open the Oakbay accounts. Stephan Nel wrote to Gordhan on Tuesday asking for two interventions. Firstly he informed the Minister that; “… vital banking services have still not been restored neither to us (Sahara), nor for that matter other businesses across the Oakbay group, despite the decision by our shareholders (the Guptas) to step away from the day-to-day involvement in our business.” Moreover, Nel indicated to the Minister that Sahara may have to terminate the employment of another 103 workers within weeks if no solution is found.
No business can operate successfully under conditions that Oakbay has been placed in illegally by banks in service of a campaign driven by white capital under the leadership of Johann Rupert who has come out in public against the family. Nel informed Gordhan about the dire situation that necessitated the extraordinary need by the four Oakbay executives to call into the radio station. To this end he said, “I would like to assure you the calls related to the extremely difficult position we find ourselves in following the banking blacklisting crisis at Oakbay”
Nel furthermore has asked the Minister to “publicly condemn acts of intimidation” which came from the anonymous caller. The intimidation is unprovoked as the Gupta businesses have not been found guilty of any wrongdoing by any court of law. The attempt to intimidate Nel must be seen within the larger context of white capital’s battle for regime change and maintaining its monopoly over the South African economy.