The National Treasury on Friday reaffirmed, in a press release, that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba continues to oppose the proposed joint venture between the State-owned Denel defence industrial group and VR Laser Asia, intended to create a company called Denel Asia. The press release was issued in reaction to “media statements attributed to Denel” regarding the matter, which National Treasury had “noted”.
National Treasury stated that Minister Gigaba had met with Denel chairperson Daniel Mantshe to discuss Denel Asia. The Minister made clear his rejection of the deal, on the grounds of Denel’s fragile financial situation. He also “invited” Denel to withdraw its court case against the National Treasury.
“The position of the Minister of Finance has not changed in this regard,” affirmed National Treasury in its press release. “He remains opposed to the transaction for reasons stated elaborately in the National Treasury affidavit to court.”
“The matter is currently before the courts and we would like to respect the process,” it added. “We will, therefore, not be making any further comment until the matter has been finalised. We hope that the other parties will also respect the court process and refrain from misleading public comments.”
On Wednesday, Mantshe told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises that top officials at Denel had had “exploratory, informal” meetings with Gigaba. Mantshe claimed that Gigaba had expressed concern about the deal and had “wanted to understand why this impasse was happening and how it is being resolved … We can say that the Minister is concerned about the impasse and wants it resolved yesterday.”
“The matter will be resolved and it will be resolved to the interest of Denel and the interest of National Treasury,” stated Mantshe.
VR Laser Asia is associated with the controversial Gupta family – its sole shareholder, Salim Essa, is a business associate of the family. Essa is a partner with the Guptas in at least two business enterprises (VR Laser Services and Tegeta Exploration and Resources), the “Mail & Guardian” newspaper has reported.