Cape Town - DA leader Helen Zille has been accused of a “serious case” of hypocrisy by gunning for the influential Gupta family – this while she had gone cap in hand to the Guptas and had come away with “substantial” donations for her party.
While Zille this week publicly snubbed the Guptas – the founders and majority shareholders of The New Age newspaper and controversial backers of President Jacob Zuma – by pulling out of a New Age breakfast briefing following reports the breakfasts were sponsored by cash-strapped state-owned enterprises, sources told Weekend Argus that the party had in the past been a beneficiary of the billionaire Gupta brothers.
A well-placed source confirmed that Zille had gone to the Gupta’s sprawling compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg in 2011 to personally ask for a donation and had emerged with a “substantial” cheque. It is believed the Gupta’s donation ran to several hundred thousand rands.
Highly-placed government insiders on Saturday took a swipe at Zille, saying her hypocrisy was “shocking”.
When approached for comment on Saturday, Zille pussyfooted around the issue, neither denying nor confirming that her party had benefited generously from the controversial family.
“The issue is not whether the Guptas have ever donated money to the DA,” Zille said when asked whether she or her party had received any funding from the Guptas.
“The issue is, if they did, whether the DA ever channelled huge amounts of public money to them in return. The answer is no.”
Zille added that the problem was not that the Guptas were ANC donors, but that they should not be benefactors of President Zuma.
“As with Schabir Shaik, it creates a major conflict of interest. The problem is, in return, if they get significant business advantages from the state (including State Owned Enterprises). That is the issue.
“What we have here is the ANC in government paying huge amounts of money to the ANC in business, who in turn gives large sums to the ANC as a party and the president’s family,” she countered.
The Gupta brothers were travelling abroad this weekend and could not be contacted for comment.
DA insiders said media reports dating back to 2011 had made mention of suspicions that the party had accepted funds from the Guptas, but because the DA had centralised its funding operations only a handful of key party members in the inner circle were aware of who the main party funders are.
“Nobody knows when or how much money was donated,” another party source said.
There has for some time been a drive to get the government to review the issue of transparency in political party financing.
The DA, like the ANC, does not reveal details about donors who in the past controversially included German fraudster Jurgen Harksen as well as slain businessman Brett Kebble.