Labour minister Mildred Oliphant conceded on Tuesday that a meeting between cabinet ministers and South Africa’s four banks had taken place. However, she didn’t want to provide further details as the ministers were still to report back to cabinet on what had transpired.
Oliphant responded to a question during a media briefing following her budget vote earlier on Tuesday afternoon at parliament.
“I cannot provide further detail and I cannot say who was present,” she said, adding that the media would be informed on the outcome of the meeting when minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe hosts a post-cabinet media briefing.
On 21 April, Radebe caused a stir when he said mines minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Oliphant and finance minister Pravin Gordhan had been tasked to meet with South Africa’s four biggest banks after the banks had cut ties with Oakbay Investments, owned by the Gupta family.
Standard Bank, FNB, Absa and Nedbank, as well as accounting firm KPMG and sponsor Sasfin Capital, ended their business relations with the Gupta-owned firm.
“Cabinet noted the actions by the four banks that gave notice to close the bank account of a company,” he said. “While cabinet appreciates the terms and conditions of the banks, the acts may deter future potential investors who may want to do business in South Africa,” Radebe said at the time.
He insisted that the proposed meeting was not an investigation but an intervention, as cabinet was concerned that the move could deter future investors.
At a subsequent media briefing, Radebe refused to comment on reports that Gordhan was not pleased about being assigned the task after reports that Gordhan had not been in the meeting where it was decided that the ministers would intervene, and had not appreciated being selected.