Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

The ANC wanted the Gupta e-mail saga to be dealt with "holistically" and conceded that the constant stream of dodgy revelations had dented its image, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of a key three-day lekgotla, which will focus on the economy and set the political tone for Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s inaugural medium-term budget, Mantashe said the ANC could not be expected to "set up its own police force" to act against the Guptas. It was "absurd" to expect the ANC to "round up the Guptas and arrest them".

Mantashe said the police should arrest those implicated in crimes and the criminal justice system should then kick in.

"I don’t want us to be casual about the e-mails … we must deal holistically with it … it’s denting the ANC," he said, even though it was individual members at the heart of the accusations and not the party. "Where there are criminal activities, state institutions must kick in and do their work. For example, when there is an allegation of a criminal act … police must arrest a person accused of the criminal activity and the justice system should kick in."

The Gupta revelations include allegations of tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and corruption, yet there has been no movement on the matter from the police or the Hawks. The ANC’s national executive committee agreed in May that President Jacob Zuma should "without delay" set up a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, but there has been no movement on this yet.

Mantashe said the lekgotla would be one of action. Society had been waiting "too long" to reverse the impasse in the economy and the state.

The party had also long been talking about crime and corruption, and the people of the country wanted to "see the action that we are going to take".

"We have made society wait for too long," he said.

Despite this, during the question and answer session Mantashe said it was "misleading" of the media to create the impression that there was nothing happening to bring corrupt politicians and officials to book, citing examples of mayors, MECs and regional party secretaries being removed over corruption allegations.

The central focus of the lekgotla would be the economy, as was the case in the party’s January and mid-year lekgotlas for the past three years.

Slow growth was a central feature of its 2015 lekgotla but Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle that year worsened the situation. Since then the economy has deteriorated, with yet another reshuffle and SA’s descent into a recession and its downgrading by three agencies.

Another key issue up for discussion will be the situation at state-owned entities and within the state itself.

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