Africa

South Africa’s Zuma denies claims of cronyism

President responds in parliament to accusations of undue influence being wielded by wealthy Indian family

Felix Nkambeh Tih   | 17.03.2016
South Africa’s Zuma denies claims of cronyism South African President Jacob Zuma

South Africa

By Hassan Isilow and Shu’eib Hassen

JOHANNESBURG

South African President Jacob Zuma has denied allegations that a wealthy Indian family, purportedly close to him, has wielded influence in appointing and firing ministers.

“I am in charge of the government. I appoint ministers. There is no minister here who has ever been appointed by the Guptas or anybody else,” Zuma said while responding to questions in parliament on Thursday.

This week, some senior politicians belonging to Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) claimed the influential Gupta family had offered them ministerial posts if they agreed to advance the family’s business interests.

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said on Wednesday that members of the Gupta family offered him the position of finance minister to replace then-minister Nhlanhla Nene, who was fired by Zuma in December.

Zuma said: “I appointed Jonas as deputy minister; that’s what I offered Jonas. If Jonas says he was offered by the Guptas I think it would be well placed to ask the Guptas or Jonas. Where do I come in?”.

Earlier this week, former ANC deputy Vytjie Mentor also claimed that she had been approached by the Gupta family to fill the post of public enterprises minister after Barbara Hogan had been fired.

She said the family wanted her to drop the South African Airways flight route to India and give it to them, but claimed she declined the offer.

The Guptas operate an airline in India which was looking to expand into the South Africa market at the time.

The Indian family has built a massive business empire in South Africa, with interests in mining, media, travel, engineering and computers.

One of Zuma’s sons, Duduzane, is a business partner of the Guptas. “Any suggestion that the Gupta family or any of our representatives or associates have offered anyone a job in government is totally false,” the Gupta family said in a statement.

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