South Africa looks to have dodged an even bigger bullet than the R500bn smack it took over Nenegate in December. The family behind that disaster have done a midnight duck to Dubai, flying out of the country on Thursday night. The penny has yet to drop among those left to run what is sure to be a rapidly crumbling empire. Although bad publicity is being blamed for the departure, the more likely reason is that the Gupta family’s biggest bet has gone sour – SA’s fiercely contested R1-trillion nuclear power build.
The Guptas invested billions in resuscitating the old Afrikander Leases underground uranium mine, an economically flawed decision in a country where tons of uranium is generated cheaply as a by-product of deep level gold mining. Flawed, that is, unless you’re confident of a generously priced buyer for your expensive output – which a “captured” SA government would doubtless have been.
With no more Gupta urging, in the unlikely event that he survives this latest bombshell SA’s numerically challenged President Jacob Zuma is certain to become circumspect on unrelenting promotion of the unaffordable nuclear project. That’s only part of the good news. Gupta-related skeletons are sure to now come tumbling out as those affected have their backbones stiffened by the news of the Indian immigrant family’s departure. Not least inside Luthuli House where the ANC’s internal “tell all” investigation has already attracted many witnesses. Reverberations are likely to be felt for months. And in many high places. – Alec Hogg