The Gupta rot must stop

By Drum Digital
22 March 2016

David Lewis, executive director of watchdog organisation, Corruption Watch, has weighed in on the recent uproar about President Jacob Zuma’s relationship with the notorious Gupta family after allegations that the family could be behind the appointment of several ministers in Government.

By Ayanda Sitole

Lewis has accused the Guptas of having “bought” the State and says there is strong evidence that senior Government officials and advisers have benefited from business interests with the wealthy family.

“The controversy surrounding the relationship between the President and the Gupta family demands immediate resolution,” says Lewis, “It is a particularly damaging distraction at a time when the country faces pressing economic problems, problems that are strongly related to the governance issues represented in the Gupta affair.”

Lewis says senior leaders in the ruling party have confirmed that they were offered cabinet positions by the Guptas.

Lewis has fingered Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who has denied this allegation, and ANC MP Vytjie Mentor who publicly admitted last week that she was offered a cabinet position by the Guptas, but says she declined it.

Lewis says the allegations constitute as “grand corruption” and should be investigated and prosecuted by the criminal justice authorities.

“It is clear that certain of the business practises of the Gupta family strongly suggest contravention of the anti-corruption legislation and, as such, should be investigated by the criminal justice authorities. However, it is equally clear that the core of the problem is not to be found in the Saxonwold compound of the Guptas, but rather in the President’s office in the Union Buildings,” he adds.

Corruption Watch has called on the ruling party to exam “gross ethical transgressions of its leaders and to pass judgement on those involved”.

Less than a week ago, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jones confirmed reports alleging that he was offered the position of finance minister by the Gupta family.

Prior to that, in 2015 President Zuma publicly acknowledged the role the Guptas have played in assisting his family by employing his son, Duduzane, who is the director of some of the Guptas’ firms.

It is reported that Bongi Ngema-Zuma, the President’s fourth wife, used to work as a communications officer for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services.

One of Zuma's daughters, Duduzile, was made a director of Sahara Computers, another Gupta business, however, she has since resigned from that position.

In 2013, the first recorded scandal of President Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas arose when permission was given to the Gupta family to land a private jet at Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria for a family wedding.

It was reported that South African law requires any aircraft or foreign aircraft wanting to land in the country with eight or more passengers to be in possession of a foreign operator’s permit, which is issued by the Department of Transport.

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