Explosive E-Mails Threaten Jacob Zuma’s Presidency

Fredrick Ngugi May 30, 2017
South African President Jacob Zuma (center) with a member of the controversial Gupta family, Atul Gupta (l). Photo credit: Daily Maverick

Just a day after surviving a motion of no confidence from members of his own party, the African National Congress (ANC), South African President Jacob Zuma is facing fresh controversy following a hoard of scandalous e-mails that reveal how his government has entrusted serious state affairs to a wealthy Indian family.

The e-mails allegedly show how the wealthy Gupta family has long been involved in state affairs, including exercising control over South African cabinet ministers, state enterprises, and government policies and decisions, according to Deutsche Welle.

For example, one e-mail shows how Zuma’s government consulted the Gupta family before the president could appoint Mosebenzi Zwane as South Africa’s minister of Mineral Resources.

Another e-mail shows how the recently sacked Minister of Finance Des van Rooyen had a trip to Dubai fully paid for by the Guptas.

There is also evidence of communication between former Minister of Communications Faith Mutambi and the Guptas on important government policy plans, while another e-mail carries a letter from President Zuma to authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), claiming that he has chosen the UAE as his second home.

Mr. Zuma has since issued a statement assuring South Africans that he plans to return to his home in Nkandla when he retires instead of the UAE.

The Guptas, through their lawyer Gert van der Merwe, have also released a statement dismissing the e-mails and insisting that they want to first verify their authenticity.

Controversial Guptas

Image result for gupta family south africa

Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, the India-born South African businessmen, one of the country’s wealthiest. Photo credit: Hindu Times

The Gupta family is a wealthy Indian-South African business family with interests in a wide range of sectors, including energy and media publications.

They migrated from India to South Africa in 1993, just before South Africa held its first democratic elections in 1994, to establish their first business ventures, the Sahara Computers and Sahara Systems (Pty) Ltd.

They are also into uranium and gold-mining activities and have substantial interest in South Africa’s media industry through TNA Media (Pty) Ltd.

The Guptas have often been criticized for their seemingly close ties with President Zuma.

A President with ‘Nine Lives’

The incriminating e-mails have renewed calls by the South African opposition for President Zuma to step down.

On Sunday, the Democratic Alliance Party (DA) — through its leader Mmusi Maimane  said they are preparing an affidavit to open criminal charges against Zuma.

“Jacob Zuma without doubt is the head of a criminal organization. The ANC’s failure to recall Jacob Zuma indicates that their successful project of state capture is in fact an ANC project,” said Maimane.

Nonetheless, some political experts are cautious to determine whether the fresh controversy is serious enough to take the embattled president down, with some even suggesting that Zuma may survive the new storm as he has done in previous scandals.

Last year, President Zuma was faced with perhaps one of the most incriminating scandals in his tenure as the head of state, after he was found guilty of spending millions of public money to renovate his private home in Nkandla.

Ultimately, he survived the impeachment motion despite having pleaded guilty to the accusations.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


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