25 May 2024 | 10:32 AM

The Guptas, Optimum and the NPA’s role in upholding the rule of law: a conversation with Sam Sole

Key Takeaways

  • AmaBhungane manager partner Sam Sole discusses the latest developments in the ongoing Optimum mine saga on Denzil Taylor’s POWER Perspective talk show on Power FM .

AmaBhungane manager partner Sam Sole appeared on Denzil Taylor’s POWER Perspective talk show on Power FM earlier this week to discuss the latest developments in the ongoing Optimum mine saga.

As Sam wrote recently, the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) settlement with ex-Gupta associate Daniel McGowan cedes control of Optimum Coal Mine to him while overlooking his allegedly instrumental role in managing the dubious financial flows that allowed the Guptas, via Tegeta, to purchase the mine from Glencore.

In conversation with Denzil, Sam explains that while the details of state capture – as famously revealed by the #GuptaLeaks – are well known, there has been a significant lack of legal consequences for centrally involved players like the Guptas. In this regard, the findings of the Zondo commission are at risk of becoming little more than a paper tiger: substantially damning yet resulting in zero successful convictions.

This uneasy sense is amplified by the fact that the NPA, unlike Zondo, and for reasons that are unclear, seem averse to making rigorous use of the #GuptaLeaks in the pursuit of justice.

Sam argues in this regard that there is an enormous disconnect between the beginning and the end of the NPA process around Optimum, to the ostensible benefit of dubious figures like McGowan.

In fact, the seeming impunity of those implicated in state capture, Sam observes, is in turn undermining our trust in democracy and the rule of law.

While there are various reasons why the NPA might be taking the easy way out, including the desire for a quick resolution of the issue, as well as the onerous task of obtaining banking records from the obstructive UAE, it also seems clear that they are not doing nearly enough in this regard.

The Optimum case, Sam explains, is important because it traverses so many aspects of the state capture case.

An understanding of the dynamics of the case can also help us to situate state capture within the longer arc of weakened and damaged institutions, including our criminal justice system.

The legacy of state capture in which the Guptas feature so centrally is but one symptom of this ongoing institutional erosion. Listen to the full interview here.

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