BARNEY MTHOMBOTHI: The slow unravelling of Gwede Mantashe
'Mantashe had apparently swallowed Bell Pottinger's propaganda hook, line and sinker'
All along Mantashe had given an impression that he was no friend of the Guptas, Zuma's benefactors. In fact he was the first to make a fuss when a Gupta plane carrying a wedding party landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base. His intervention led to the appointment of an inter-ministerial task team to investigate. But that was merely to pull the wool over the public's eyes. Senior party officials, including Mantashe, knew more than they were letting on. We were to learn later that even the wedding was funded from the public purse.
And when former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and Themba Maseko and others made serious allegations of impropriety against the Guptas, Mantashe called on them to hand him the evidence so he could investigate. The probe was stillborn. His intention was to sweep everything under the carpet. We now know why. He, like Zuma, was not only in the Guptas' pocket; he was a willing hand in capturing the state.
The Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture has only just started, but it looks set to become a raging flood that's likely to leave a lot of political wreckage in its wake. We're already beginning to see the slow, but inexorable unravelling of Gwede Mantashe. Not that scandals have ever dimmed political careers, in this government anyway. There's a lot of flotsam floating around the cabinet table. Ace Magashule's election as ANC secretary-general was met with surprise, even disbelief. As premier he almost ran the Free State into the ground. Most of the province's municipalities are dysfunctional. He's been implicated in the Estina dairy farm scandal, in which money intended to help emerging black farmers went into the pockets of the Guptas and was spent on their lavish wedding at Sun City. Incompetence and corruption didn't seem to be a bar to Magashule ascending to one of the most powerful jobs in the party. But the outcry that greeted his ascendancy seemed to suggest that t...