The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is appalled to learn that President Zuma is considering establishing a judicial inquiry into the closure of the bank accounts of the Guptas’ Oakbay Investments.

The President confirmed this after being asked the following straight-forward question during the oral question session in Parliament on 23 November 2016:

“Mr. President, on the 2nd September 2016, you told the nation that the statement made by Minister Zwane was not representing presidency, cabinet or government and is unfortunate. However, five days later, on the 7 September, Minister Zwane said in this House “the inter-ministerial committee made five recommendations to cabinet. Four of the recommendations were approved … and one was referred to the president for further consideration as it was not within the purview of cabinet to take a decision on the matter”, now my question is, what is the status of this recommendation as it cannot be left hanging forever?”

To my astonishment, the President replied that… “the recommendation in being considered”.

This is answer by the President is disturbing because:

Firstly, this consideration is confirmed on the eve of the arrival of the rating agencies on out doorstep and at a time when our economy is struggling to breathe.

Secondly, this is a direct departure of not contradicting his statement of the 2 September. The President further said, that the “the unfortunate contents of the statement and the inconvenience and confusion caused by the issuing thereof, are deeply regretted”.

Thirdly, and notwithstanding the serious allegations filed in court by the Minister of Finance, the President deems it necessary to continue considering a judicial inquiry. Amongst these, is an allegation that the Minister is doing favours for the Gupta family, and that his department has withheld information related to its approval of a transfer of R1.5 billion from a trust account held with Standard Bank to the Bank of Baroda in India.

We would have thought that the President would be consistent with his 2 September statement to dismiss the recommendation and allow the private relationship that exists between banks and their clients. This is so because any bank customer, who has a complaint about his or her bank, may approach the Ombudsman for Banking Service (OBS).

This action by the President makes him an ombudsman of the Gupta family.