MK vets to back their Gupta partners

2011-02-26 18:27

The ANC Military Veterans’ Association is expected to come out in defence of the Gupta family as leaders in the ruling party question the business relationship between the brothers and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

The association’s chair, Kebby Maphatsoe, said his organisation would host a media conference at Luthuli House at which they would dismiss the allegations levelled against Duduzane and the Gupta brothers, who recently amassed a plethora of business deals.

A news conference scheduled for tomorrow was cancelled so as not to overshadow the big-bang launch of the ANC manifesto today.

The move could pit the association against labour federation Cosatu, which announced this week that it planned to carry out its own “independent research” to verify allegations of how the Guptas and Duduzane got involved in lucrative deals in mining, property, information technology and newspaper publishing.

Maphatsoe said not only did the allegations against the Guptas and the president have the potential to incite the public against the head of state, but they were unfair on Duduzane.

“People must come with proof these deals were done in a corrupt way. It is unfair the way Duduzane is treated. It is not correct for people to...make unproven allegations. For us it is about the security of our country,” Maphatsoe said.

A senior member of the association said the “persistent attacks” on the Gupta family and Duduzane were linked to next year’s ANC elective conference.

“There is a possibility that this issue is linked to 2012,” the member said.

The veterans’ association is the broad-based black economic empowerment (BEE) partner in two deals involving the Guptas and Duduzane.

It owned shares in Shiva Uranium, owned by the Guptas’ Oakbay Resources, and in September last year Duduzane – in response to claims that his individual benefit from the ArcelorMittal BEE deal was too large – said he was divesting 70% into a broad-based vehicle.

The ­association and women’s groups were to be the largest beneficiaries.

Yesterday ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said: “Does the fact that Duduzane is a son of the president mean he must never take independent business decisions?”

He added: “The ­association is an organisation of ex- combatants, many of whom are destitute. When they take ­entrepreneurial initiative (they get criticised). Does this mean they must remain destitute?”

Cosatu said its research would focus on whether the success of the Gupta family amounted to plundering the economy and, if that was proven, what the implication was for the other partners ­involved in the deals.

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