Former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report has sought to unravel alleged improper and unethical conduct by President Jacob Zuma amid his contentious relationship with the Gupta family.
The Guptas are accused of exerting influence over him regarding the appointment of cabinet ministers and their ‘underhanded’ deals to channel state contracts to enrich their business empire, according to prima facie evidence gathered by Madonsela.
But amid the fallout following the publication of the report and behind-the-scenes political manoeuvring, very little is known about the family and their links to the Zumas.
Here is a breakdown of the Guptas’ history, according to Madonsela’s report:
The Gupta family, originating from India, arrived in South Africa in 1993. They established businesses in South Africa with their most notable business being a computer assembly and distribution company called Sahara Computers.
The family is led by three brothers, Ajay Gupta, the eldest, Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta, the youngest. Rajesh is commonly known as ‘Tony’.Atul Gupta. (File Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times / James Oatway)
According to a letter submitted to Madonsela’s office, total revenues from their business activities for the 2016 financial year amounted to R2.6 billion, with government contracts contributing a total of R235 million of the revenues. It’s not known if this is accurate, as the family allegedly boasted about the billions they have made from the state..
They later diversified their business interests into mining through the acquisition of JIC Mining Services, Shiva Uranium and Tegeta Exploration and Resources, Optimum Coal Mine and Koornfontein Coal Mine. They also started a media company called TNA Media, which publishes a newspaper called The New Age and owns a television channel called ANN7.
The Gupta family are known friends of President Zuma.
Zuma has openly acknowledged his friendship with them, most notably during a discussion in the National Assembly on June 29, 2013, where he admitted that members of the Gupta family were his friends.
Ajay Gupta also admitted to being friends with President Zuma when Madonsela interviewed him on October 4, 2016.
Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, is a business partner of the Gupta family through an entity called Mabengela Investments (“Mabengela”).
Mabengela has a 28.5% interest in Tegeta Exploration and Resources (“Tegeta”). Duduzane is a director of Mabengela.
Members of the Gupta family and Duduzane have secured major contracts with Eskom, a major state-owned company, through Tegeta. Tegeta has secured a 10-year coal supply agreement (“CSA”) with Eskom to supply coal to the Majuba Power Station. The entity has also secured contracts with Eskom to supply coal to the Hendrina and Arnot power stations.
The utility’s CEO, Brian Molefe, is friends with members of the Gupta family. Ajay Gupta admitted during Madonsela’s interview with him on October 4, 2016, that Molefe was his “very good friend” and often visits his home in Saxonwold.
The New Age newspaper has also secured contracts with some provincial government departments and state-owned entities, most notably Eskom and South African Airways.
The Gupta family recently purchased shares in an entity called VR Laser Services. VR Laser has major contracts with state arms manufacturer Denel SOC Limited, a state-owned armaments manufacturing company. VR Laser has also partnered with Denel to apparently seek business opportunities abroad.