Govt & The Guptas. Surely Other Bedfellows are Beside?

2016-03-07 09:59

Being a Gupta in South Africa has become an increasingly tedious and publicity wrought affair. The slew of media reports on their proximity to the presidency has placed a proverbial laser target on their back, replete with reporters ready to pounce at the slightest mention of any business related activity with the President and his family. Indeed their open association with the presidency, along with recent threats issued by Julius Malema and the EFF, have served to galvanize public sentiment and media attention solely on one family and its influence on party politics. South Africans in their exasperation have found various ways to vent their anger, at times locating a central target. The Gupta family at this point in time is no doubt an easy target, as insatiable scrutiny from media, the public and opposition parties collides to from an easily thought consensus. Such has been the noise surrounding this family that we've become blinded to other nefarious actors in the political landscape.

One is almost tempted to liken this 'baying for blood' akin to the frenzied and brutal harrying of Askaris during the Apartheid era. This culture of naming and shaming is of course warranted when activities surrounding political relationships are thought unsavoury. Indeed the case of the Gupta family fits the bill, but we should be careful to ensure our scrutiny isn't tunneled into a singular and narrowed vision. South Africa's political parties have and continue to receive funding from numerous benefactors besides the infamous Guptas. Across the board, opposition as well as majority parties refuse to disclose their funding since they believe it will jeopardize their standing (morally and socially). This should serve as a warning for anyone astute enough to know that the Guptas, tainted as they are, can't be the only ones lining up to influence or lobby state structures and decision making.

There are plenty of other super rich who I believe, have shied from overt political stances and declarations not because they're apolitical (as they like to claim), but because they know less attention is more advantageous for their ambitions, no matter how nefarious or twisted. Families and their companies seen to have profited over generations from undue legal and economic systems of the past, remain silently smug in the background as one family remains the target for an enraged yet misled public, gallant opposition parties and a sales/numbers driven media. Inter-generational wealth of South Africa's super rich, I have no doubt is funneled into political avenues to influence policies surrounding and affecting their interests.

The silent and covert mannerisms of these 'old families' in their personal and economic affairs is ingrained. Contrasted by the media grabbing, brash and flash Gupta family, the secretive nature of 'older wealthy families' isn't only justified, it's routinely encouraged. Government in it's self-inflated hubris affords the continuation of structural ills only youth activists (more FB oriented than actually active) seem to have the courage to speak about. The silence afforded to historically entrenched pockets of wealth in the country means their contributions to the political are blurred almost to the extent of erasure. The privacy of individuals and families is understandable given the state of attrition our society has reached, but this still needs to be weighed against what their funds/funding perpetuate[s] in the political landscape and ultimately in our society.

The frenzy surrounding Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, as associates and friends of Jacob Zuma isn't something to be ignored, nor can it be left unchecked. However at the same time the relationship between Zuma and the Guptas should be supplemented with the knowledge that other more covert entities reside and collude with political parties for their own ends. Zuma in his tact and maneuvering can't be expected to keep ties with only one family. That to me is absurd. As citizenry, media and political opposition alike, we would do well to remember this. If our media is intent on uncovering corruption and ill-deeds among our elite, this shouldn't be relegated to the most visible perpetrators but those whose malfeasance requires deeper digging.

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