Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is taking on the Gupta family, along with the SABC, according to a report in the Sunday Times.
The paper reported that Gordhan has cancelled the Gupta-owned New Age newspaper’s post-budget breakfast briefing, which was due to take place this week.
The report stated that the minister will also ask the National Treasury to scrutinise coal-supply contracts awarded by Eskom, including those held by the Guptas.
“This bucks the trend of cabinet ministers meekly bowing to the Gupta family’s demands,” said the Sunday Times.
New Age briefings a money-spinner
According to the report, the New Age breakfasts are a “regular money-spinner for the newspaper”, and are often attended by government ministers, heads of state owned enterprises, and President Jacob Zuma.
The Sunday Times stated that Gordhan’s office told the SABC he would only appear at the breakfast briefing if the Gupta-owned newspaper was not involved.
“The move is said to have angered SABC chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has requested a meeting with Gordhan and Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile.”
New Age breakfast briefings have made headlines in the past, with companies like Telkom and Transnet paying at least R1 million to sponsor the events.
In 2013, then Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane reportedly paid close to R700,000 to speak at one of the events.
Coal deals to be investigated
According to a source in the Treasury, an Eskom coal-supply probe will also soon take place – with the Guptas the main target.
“We are going to look at every contract there, especially those where the parastatal did not follow proper procurement processes,” the source told the Sunday Times.
Gupta-linked Tegeta Resources and Exploration is buying Optimum mine from Glencore. It provides coal to Eskom’s Arnot power station, stated the Sunday Times.
“Gordhan’s stance highlights a growing revolt within the ruling party against the perceived influence the Guptas have on Zuma and his cabinet.”
The full report is in the Sunday Times of 21 February 2016.