ANC branch may charge Atul Gupta

Businessman Atul Gupta’s ANC branch will decide tomorrow whether or not to charge him with misconduct following the Waterkloof air force base debacle.

The landing of a plane full of Gupta wedding guests at the Waterkloof air base and the use of police VIP blue lights in cars ferrying the guests to Sun City sparked a national outcry.

Now ward 117 branch secretary Tebogo Khaas has lodged a complaint against Gupta – who is a member of the 150 member-strong branch that includes the northern Joburg suburbs of Parktown, Rosebank and Saxonwold – urging the branch to take disciplinary steps against the businessman for embarrassing the ANC in the wake of the Gupta saga.

Khaas confirmed that he had filed a complaint, but refused to talk about the matter.

Government is investigating several officials involved in the matter.

Last Monday, Khaas asked branch chairperson and businessman Sipho Sithole to institute disciplinary proceedings against Gupta. The letter was also sent to Joburg regional secretary Dada Morero and Gauteng ANC secretary David Makhura.

“I respectfully submit that Comrade Atul has intentionally, or through wilful negligence encouraged others to, use his association and close proximity to the senior leadership of the ANC to purvey his errant behaviour to the apparent detriment of the organisation.

“Lest we forget, the apparent incestuous relationship between money and politics is a serious poser to the integrity of our leadership – especially at branch level – and threatens the very fabric that inspired, bound and guided the organisation for over 100 years,” wrote Khaas.

Gupta’s spokesperson, Gary Naidoo, earlier said the businessman was unaware of any action against him, and was attending a wedding in India.

“As we have continuously said, we respect the processes currently under way,” Naidoo said.

In his response, Sithole wrote that the matter should be referred to the branch leadership to decide.

However, Sithole refused to comment when contacted by City Press.

There is concern though in the year-old branch that reigning in Gupta would divide members as some feel that the government investigation into the Waterkloof debacle should run its course before the branch takes any action against a member.

Gupta’s branch is also one of the few party branches that did not back Zuma’s re-election in Mangaung, which upset Zuma’s backers at the branch, said a source who is branch member.

“Only one person raised Jacob Zuma’s name. And no one seconded him, even for the (national executive committee). Since then Atul Gupta has made it clear that the branch will never see a contribution from him.

“We would rather be poor as a branch than rely on tainted money because that means he has hegemony over us,” said the source.

However, Naidoo has rejected this claim, saying: “It is preposterous to give any credence to the allegation.”

The Gauteng ANC spokesperson Nat Kekana said he could not comment on internal issues pertaining to individual party members.

The province is understood to be weary of upsetting Zuma and his allies, and feels that the branch is jumping the gun the ANC national executive committee, which meets this week, has not had a bite at the Waterkloof debacle.

In the same vein, national ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he could not comment on “hearsay” as the branch had not reported the matter to the ANC.

“Where I am seated I am not aware of this. Nothing officially has been communicated to any structure of the ANC”.

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