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As Guptas head to court, Gordhan flies off to sell SA overseas

Mar 25 2017 17:55
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – While Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments heads to the North Gauteng High Court next week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his senior leaders at Treasury will embark on an overseas trip to sell South Africa as an investment destination.

The court hearing from Tuesday to Thursday is as a result of an application Gordhan brought to the court to seek legal protection from having to intervene on behalf of the Guptas, whose bank accounts were blacklisted by South Africa’s top four banks in 2016.

Untested allegations of state capture and corruption linking the Guptas to President Jacob Zuma and a patronage network appears to be at the heart of the issue.

Gordhan is not required to attend next week’s hearing as the high court application only requires his legal counsel to represent him.

Gordhan, deputy minister Mcebisi Jonas and Treasury director general Lungisa Fuzile “will embark on a non-deal international investor roadshow”, Treasury said in a statement on Saturday.

“The delegation will spend two days in London (27 - 28 March), one day in Boston (29 March) and two days in New York (30-31 March).

“This follows extensive engagements by senior National Treasury officials with domestic investors following the tabling of the 2017 Budget by the Minister of Finance.

“Treasury has a consistent and long standing strategy of engaging investors on a regular basis. The purpose of this is to provide an update on the most recent developments, engage constructively with investors and share government's thinking behind its' latest policy proposals,” it said.

This was a positive move by Treasury, explained political analyst Daniel Silke on Saturday.

“Everyone is fatigued by the Gupta issue,” he told Fin24. “It doesn’t serve anyone’s interests, especially with rating agencies coming to again review South Africa soon.

“South Africa has to look beyond the Guptas and reprioritise what is essential for the country from an investment perspective.”

Silke said South Africans often get too inwardly focused on corruption. “These issues have run the danger of making us too inwardly focused to the detriment of global perspectives.”

“South Africans are too obsessed with state capture and this has lost us valuable time and energy in dealing with the outside world and getting South Africa on the global map again.”

Silke said it is the job of the minister and his senior team “to build confidence in South Africa from a global perspective and to create positive sentiment in the global business environment”.

“That would be seen as a priority as opposed to local game playing and machinations,” he said. “It doesn’t come as a surprise that this is where they should be putting their time and effort”.

“They are office bearers who enable South Africa to be recognised on a global stage – that’s part of their job.”

“It is clearly business as usual for the minister of finance and his team and this is where their priority should be.”
 

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