Jean-Jacques Cornish

Oakbay employees urge banks to re-engage

Employees of  Oakbay Investments are asking South Africa’s four largest banks to resume dealing with company accused of engaging in state capture.

The workers say they will lose their jobs at the end of May if  bank accounts of the company owned by the wealthy Indian Gupta family remain closed.

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The staff, who say they number 7,500,  insist in an open letter to South Africa’s four major banks that they’ve done nothing wrong.

They’re not wealthy or politically connected and they certainly have not engaged in state capture.

The letter follows appointment of a world-renowned public relations company Bell Pottinger by Oakbay chief executive Nazeem Howa who’s failed to secure a meeting with the banks.

They cut ties with Oakbay earlier this month in the political heat generated by mounting allegations that the Gupta family improperly tried to make appointments to the South African Cabinet.

The Guptas elevated Zuma’s son Duduzane to a directorship of Oakbay.

Duduzane’s resigned from that post. The Guptas have also quit as directors of Oakbay and left the country.

The staff say they don’t  know if any of the allegations against the Gupta family or Oakbay’s management are true. They don’t care.

They simply want to  provide for their families.

They say they’ve been told by Howa that if Oakbay’s bank accounts are not reopend, they cannot be paid and Oakbay cannot pay its bills.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.