Oakbay wanted ANC to put pressure on banks - Gwede Mantashe

Former ANC SG says party was concerned about job losses, but also raised issue of regulations

#StateCaptureInquiry: Gupta-linked Oakbay wanted ANC to put pressure on banks - Mantashe

Gupta-linked Oakbay Investments wanted the ANC to put pressure on South Africa's banks to reopen the company's accounts.

This was the testimony of ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday afternoon.

"Oakbay in all their campaign, they wanted every institution, including the ANC, to put pressure on the banks to open their accounts," Mantashe told inquiry chair Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Mantashe was giving testimony in response to claims by officials from the country's so-called big four banks who claimed they were summoned to Luthuli House to discuss why they had closed the personal and business accounts of members of the Gupta family.

The ANC had individual meetings with three banks: Standard bank, Absa and Nedbank. Mantashe said the party did not meet with First National Bank.

The bankers claim Mantashe, who was the ANC's secretary general at the time, and Enoch Godongwana called them to explain their decisions.

Concern over job losses

On Tuesday afternoon Mantashe told Zondo that the party had two meetings with Oakbay in which the company wanted to raise issues of potential job losses and how it had become impossible to do business in South Africa following the closure of the accounts.

"We didn't just wake up and meet the bank. There were quite a number of issues that put pressure on us," Mantashe said.

Mantashe also told the commission that the ANC was concerned about the loss of jobs, but it emphasised the importance of compliance to laws and regulations. He also said the party wanted to understand the reasons why the accounts were closed.

He said during their meeting, the banks raised several issues with the party and gave its officials the "clarity" they needed.

He said following their meeting with the banks, "we went back to them (Oakbay) telephonically after the NEC (national executive committee) meeting and told them that there are job loses but people must comply with regulations".

Mantashe also took the commission through a 2016 NEC meeting that he said was preoccupied with the challenges of state capture and dealt with issues of the Gupta family influencing the state.

'Things began to fall apart'

Allegations of state capture were dealt with internally, he said.

"State capture was a reality we were engaging in," Mantashe said.

Mantashe said his first five years as ANC secretary general were "comfortable".

"We were doing well."

He said matters quickly took a turn in the last five years of his tenure.

"We were in trouble. Things began to fall apart when things of state capture began to manufacture."

He added that a total of eight ANC members came forward with state capture information, but many did not want to give written statements because they were suspicious of the ANC's own investigation.

"Many of our people felt the Guptas were influencing the state. The ANC cannot be totally exonerated from this," he added.