Employees at Gupta-owned Oakbay want a letter representing them retracted, after it was sent out to banks on their behalf pleading for them to reopen the company’s accounts.
On Wednesday African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine was jeered after he tried to reason with Oakbay employees who were unhappy with the letter.
Upon arrival at the Sahara offices, Maine said he discovered the staff were divided and that there had not been a meeting with staff over the writing of the letter, according to News24.
“We have decided to abandon the meeting because that letter was not written by the staff… The staff must unite themselves before we can talk to them. The consensus of that letter is that people are not sure of the future,” he told journalists.
The letter sent to the four banks on Wednesday said: “We do not know if any of the allegations against the Gupta family or Oakbay’s management are true. We do not care.”
Employees said “they do care about mounting allegations on the Gupta family and state capture” and so wanted the letter retracted, according to EWN.
Sahara general manager Robbie Russo, whose name is one of two signed on behalf of the 7 500 workers at Oakbay, told Radio 702 that he was approached to sign the letter and sent it to his staff to see if they were happy, which he said they were.
However, 702’s Xolani Gwala asked an anonymous employee if their views were canvassed, and she replied: “That is completely not true.”
“We were not consulted before this letter was written. We would have loved to have been consulted,” she said. “Nobody came to any staff members and said, ‘guys, this is what we want to do, do you guys agree with it?”
Banks blacklist Oakbay over Gupta politics
Oakbay’s auditor KPMG, the top four banks and Oakbay’s JSE sponsor Sasfin Capital all cut ties with Oakbay Investments in March and CEO Nazeem Howa has been on a mission to get the banks to rethink their move.
“Without bank accounts we may find ourselves in a position where we are unable to pay you‚ our valued employees,” he told staff in a letter. “We are doing everything in our power to ensure this does not happen.”
Oakbay’s public relations team – led by world-renowned firm Bell Pottinger – has stepped up attempts to change the dialogue around its company after the Gupta family resigned from all their positions and jumped on a jet to Dubai earlier this month.
In a letter signed by Phuti Mosomane and Russo addressed to Barclays Africa CEO Maria Ramos, FNB CEO Jacques Celliers, Standard Bank CEO Ben Kruger and Nedbank CEO Michael Brown, “the staff” pleaded with them to “reopen the bank accounts so that we do not have to suffer” as they have “not done anything wrong”.
That followed increasing political heat this year due to allegations that they influenced President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and former finance minister Des van Rooyen, as well as offering ministerial posts to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor.[Source: News24]