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‘Trade Minister’s job under threat from Guptas’

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The South African Communist Party (SACP) on Thursday said they had sufficient reason to believe another cabinet shift loomed, this time with Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies as the target in favour of a Gupta family appointee.

“The [SACP] has learnt reliably from several sources that another ‘Gupta-inspired cabinet shuffle’ is imminent,” said party spokesperson Alex Mashilo.

The plan, said Mashilo, was to replace Davies – widely regarded as one of the country’s best-performing ministers – with a recently sworn-in African National Congress (ANC) member of parliament and businessperson.

“The motivation for the intended shuffle is connected to the Gupta family interests in acquiring a stake in Arcelor Mittal and their concern that the Department of Trade and Industry under the leadership of Minister Davies, as part of its commitment to localisation and job creation, is setting tough pricing conditions on the sale of steel into the downstream South African manufacturing sector,” alleged Mashilo.

This comes a day after Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas revealed he was indeed offered the position of Finance Minister by the Guptas, to replace the then-Minister Nhlanhla Nene. This was prior to Des Van Rooyen’s appointment and prompt removal. Minister Davies commented on Jonas’ admission on Thursday during an interview with the Business Day, calling Jonas a man of integrity.

Senior ANC members Barbara Hogan, Ngoako Ramatlhodi and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor have also broken their silence, admitting to offers made or pressure felt relating to the Guptas.

Mashilo said that the communist party, a member of the tripartite alliance along with the ruling ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), has called for a “broad spectrum investigation” into the “phenomenon of corporate state capture”.

Furthermore, the SACP also called for a judicial commission of enquiry to reveal the “nature, character and extent of the problem”, and to find ways to act on the issues.

“The SACP will seek engagement with the ANC and the alliance as a whole to discuss the problem in general,” said Mashilo, saying that the apparent growing evidence of the manipulation of political appointments by the Gupta family would be prioritised.

“Failure to deal with the harmful problem of corporate capture in our movement, society in general, and the State will hamstring not only the capacity of the State but also the whole of South Africa in safeguarding its constitutional democracy and democratic national sovereignty,” said Mashilo.

[Source: ANA)

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