The Gupta family have announced that they are selling their businesses in the country. Pictured is Atul Gupta.

* Atul Gupta has announced his exit.

* Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan is standing his ground.

* Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has backed Gordhan.

* Surprise as Des Van Rooyen enters Sars wars

* Intrigue as Pravin's successor is lined up

Johannesburg - The political fallout on the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over the SA Revenue Service (Sars) has claimed its first casualty after the Guptas quit their businesses on Saturday.

This followed an eventful week when Gordhan told his staff at the Treasury that the Guptas were behind his troubles with the Hawks.

The Guptas appear to be preparing to leave the country without answering to claims of state capture, which are going to be the subject of a public protector investigation.

Early in the week, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa backed Gordhan in the battle for the Treasury keys.

However, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen has called on his cabinet colleague, Gordhan, to subject himself to the probe by the Hawks.

“Do the same that has been done by other Sars officials. No one of us must be treated as special or maybe given what can be termed preferential treatment,” he said. He was speaking to Independent Media on the sidelines of the traditional leaders gathering in Durban on Saturday.

The Hawks have refused to comment on what will happen to Gordhan after he failed to show up at its Pretoria offices this week.

The Guptas have denied claims by Gordhan that they had caused trouble for him.

Treasury spokeswoman Phumza Macanda could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

In a dramatic turn of events, the Guptas announced that they were selling all their businesses in South Africa.

This came shortly after Gordhan had informed Treasury officials of the Guptas’ role in the Hawks' investigations of him.

But the Gupta family denied any link to Gordhan’s troubles with the unit.

The family said it was not involved in politics and those who have evidence should bring it forward.

“We repeat the challenge to our detractors. If you have evidence against us, please bring it.

“Otherwise, please leave us alone. We have no interest in politics, only business,” they said.

Later in the day, however, the Gupta family announced they were selling their businesses in the country. They said they were in discussion with prospective international buyers and would make announcements in due course.

The Guptas added this was in the best interests of South Africa, their businesses and colleagues.

It was reported a few months ago that the Guptas had bought a luxury mansion in Dubai, where they were planning to settle following the state capture furore.

The latest development comes after a group of ANC members, who protested outside the national executive committee meeting in Pretoria a few months ago, said on social media it was planning a similar protest.

The group said it would protest at the national working committee of the ANC next Monday to force the ANC to fire President Jacob Zuma.

In his attack on Gordhan, Van Rooyen said he was not above the law and that Zuma was subjected to the same process as him.

He denied that the Hawks investigation and the threat of arrest facing the finance minister were a ploy to get rid of Gordhan.

“None of us should undermine the provisions set out in our constitutional democracy. It is important for all of use to really comply. If this matter is delayed it could create uncertainty and that might even dent investor confidence. But also this might have some adverse effect on the long-term development of our country,” Van Rooyen said.

It has been reported that ANC MP Sfiso Buthelezi has been earmarked to succeed Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle.

Van Rooyen and Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe have also been touted for the finance portfolio.

The Sunday Independent