Zim, Guptas part ways
Mpho Sibanyoni and Andile Ntingi, City Press
Johannesburg - Lazarus Zim and the controversial Gupta family have cut business ties.
The well-respected businessman confirmed he severed all business ties with the Gupta family last year, ending a relationship plagued by controversy ever since a company with close links to the Guptas won lucrative iron ore mineral rights.
Zim played down the separation, saying it was a move in the interest of using his time better.
“I am out of The New Age and other [Gupta] businesses. I have limited time and it’s a question of reprioritising my efforts to focus on key projects. I will announce these in due course. The separation happened last year,” Zim told City Press.
Zim is the second high-profile South African to go on record about cutting business ties with the wealthy Gupta family, which comprises Ajay and younger brothers Atul and Rajesh.
Essop Pahad, a former minister in the presidency under Thabo Mbeki and one-time ANC bigwig, broke all business ties with the Guptas last year after they stopped funding his political magazine, The Thinker.
Both Pahad and Zim were in 2010 appointed as directors of TNA Media, the publisher of the The New Age newspaper, which said at its launch that it would be “broadly sympathetic to the government”.
Zim was also a shareholder in the New Age and Sahara Computers, another Gupta-owned company.
Purely business reasons
Another prominent businessman, who declined to be named, also confirmed to City Press that he had cut ties with the Guptas, but refused to say why.
The relationship between Zim and Guptas extended beyond the New Age and Sahara Computers. The Guptas, through a family investment vehicle Oakbay Investments, owned 30% of Zim’s Afripalm Holdings.
If the relationship was over, this implied that the Guptas were bought out of Afripalm.
Gupta family spokesperson Gary Naidoo said Zim left purely for business reasons.
“I have read your questions and they seem to be another fishing expedition.
“All businesses reshape their investments from time to time. Lazarus Zim remains a friend of the [Gupta] family,” he said.