Who really runs South Africa? – by Martina Schwikowski (Deutsche Welle – March 17, 2016)


Pressure for President Jacob Zuma to step down is increasing after allegations of his involvement in a corruption scandal with the Gupta family. But who are the powerful Guptas?

More and more connections between South African President Jacob Zuma and the Indian Gupta family are coming to light as allegations regarding top government jobs offered by the infamous family continue to surface. The opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) laid corruption charges against the controversial family at the Cape Town police station on Thursday (17.03.2016).

President Jacob Zuma was questioned in parliament about the Guptas’ political influence. Zuma, however, denied any involvement and reiterated that he alone holds the power to appoint cabinet members.

The Guptas have forged political connections to members of the ruling party and especially to the president himself over the last ten years. The family brothers Ajay, Atul (pictured above with the president’s son, Duduzane Zuma) and Rajesh Gupta, all in their 40s, moved to South Africa from India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh in Saharanpur in 1993, just as white minority rule was ending and the country was opening up to the rest of the world.

Indian business empire

South Africa would become the “America of the world,” the Guptas’ father believed, and sent his sons to Africa. It is reported that Atul Gupta was surprised by the lack of red tape when he arrived in South Africa, the largest economy on the continent at that time. The Guptas were small businessmen in their home country. In Africa, Atul Gupta set up the new family business Sahara Computers.

Over the years, the Guptas evolved as very successful business people with an annual turnover of about 200 million rand ($12.5 million, 11.3 million euros) and some 10,000 employees. Their huge private mansion, Sahara Estate, is located in the posh suburb of Saxonwold in Johannesburg.

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