The powerful Gupta family is untouchable and remains perfectly positioned to control South Africa. The Gupta overlords have a tremendous power of influence, and the African National Party (ANC) government would not dare oppose them. The political influence, arrogance and bullying tactics of the Guptas has caused the ANC government to once again fall under the controlling schemes of the compelling family and it appears that the ANC has reached the point of no return.
There are allegations of mounting pressure on Eskom, the electricity giant of South Africa to approve a R500 million-coal contract to Idwala Coal, a company co-owned by the Guptas. Eskom officials signed a document evaluating the deal as risky. Zola Tsotsi the chairperson of Eskom is under immense pressure to sign the deal, despite the risks and disapproval by Eskom Management. Unconfirmed reports speculate that some key players of the Gupta Empire have approached government ministers and raised concerns about the reluctance of Eskom to sign the deal.
Last year the Idwala Coal Crypts, situated in Mpumalanga, South Africa was ordered to clean up its operations after breaking environmental laws. Environmental Rights spokesperson Melissa Fourie said mining infringements were troublesome in the Mpumalanga wetland areas and experienced recurring problems with acid mine water drainage. President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzana has been linked to the Idwala Coal mining operation. Duduzana Zuma worked for the Gupta family for more than a decade and is now a high-ranking senior executive of the Gupta Group.
A report issued last year confirmed the mine had been operating illegally for over three years and the ANC government disregarded any complaints. Reports stated the mine had been operating without a water license, had illegally diverted a road and river, destroyed a wetland and had defaulted on payments to subcontractors.
The blatant abuse of power by the Gupta family raised questions again about another scandal regarding the private aircraft landing at Waterkloof airbase as three South African National Defense (SANDF) members appeared in court. The jet was carrying over 200 guests to attend a Gupta family wedding, and the landing caused a national rumpus. Over the investigation period, the charges against the soldiers have been substantially lessened. President Zuma tactfully defended this action and declared Waterkloof airbase was not a national key point. Once again, the mighty Guptas showed disrespect toward South Africa and its citizens.
The relatively unknown Gupta family arrived in South Africa from India almost twenty years ago and stepped into the Zuma fold after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) disrupted the corruption deals between Shaik Schabir and Zuma. Schabir openly flaunted his relationship with Zuma for material gain. Schabir was charged with corruption and handed down a 15 year jail sentence. After spending less than three years, mostly in the hospital while serving his sentence, he was released on medical parole, and all corruption charges against Zuma were cancelled.
The Guptas are ambitious businesspersons who do everything on an impressive scale, and their actions prove Schabir was an amateur. Within a matter of time, the Guptas embraced the Zuma family, the ANC government and cabinet ministers without any objections. The Zuma presidency immediately maintained an intimate relationship with the powerful Guptas and ensured contracts worth millions of rands were channeled to the Gupta Empire. Funds rolled in, and the constant parade of grand scale meetings helped the Gupta family conduct their business in an invincible and forthright manner.
Within a year the Gupta empire has concluded an agreement to set up a new television station and secure tender contracts worth billions of rands with Transnet, the major transportation company of South Africa. They have continued to run illegal mines, ignore environmental laws and pressurize Eskom into giving their empire the latest deal. The ANC government dare not cross the stronghold of the Gupta family, who are untouchable and ideally positioned to control South Africa.
Opinion by Laura Oneale