Madonsela wants more money for Gupta probe
THE PUBLIC Protector could seek state funding to speed up its investigation into a growing scandal over President Jacob Zuma’s relationship with a wealthy family, her spokesman said yesterday.
In an affair that has caused wild swings in the rand since erupting last week, Zuma is facing calls to resign since a number of senior officials went public with allegations that the Guptas wielded undue influence on the government.
The Guptas, whose businesses stretch from media to mining, have denied offering government jobs and say they are pawns in a plot to oust Zuma.
Zuma also denies the allegations.
Oupa Segalwe, spokesman for the Public Protector, said the watchdog was “considering this approach” when asked about comments his boss, Thuli Madonsela, made in the Beeld newspaper yesterday.
“We want to ask the Treasury for a special fund for our special investigations.
“Then we can appoint a team of external forensic investigators and conclude the investigation quicker,” Madonsela was quoted as saying in the paper.
The ANC, yesterday, also denied reports that Zuma had offered to resign in the wake of the developments.
The Mail & Guardian and Sowetan newspapers reported that Zuma had offered to stand down at a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) this weekend, citing party sources who attended the summit.
“This is not true. It didn’t happen,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said.
The ANC said in a statement on Sunday it had full confidence in Zuma and would investigate allegations by politicians that they were offered positions by the Guptas.
The DA is asking Madonsela to investigate whether Zuma used his influence to benefit the Gupta family.
The ANC, affirming its support for Zuma after a three-day summit this weekend, said it would conduct its own investigation into the matter.
The family said yesterday it welcomed the ANC’s probe.
“We welcome this process, which should ultimately allow the truth to be recognised and end this current trial by innuendo and slander,” the family said.
“We reiterate our support for the country’s constitution and the rule of law and believe state capture from any quarter should be condemned.
“We remain committed to the overall well-being of South Africa and all its citizens.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further until publication of the findings.”
Zuma sacked finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December and appointed a junior politician with no record of national financial management to the post, before backtracking and summoning past finance minister Pravin Gordhan a few days later.
Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said that, in December, the Gupta family offered him his boss’ job.
The allegations come as Africa’s most industrialised economy faces a possible ratings downgrade which would raise the costs of borrowing.
They also come before a local government elections due around the middle of the year, which analysts say could show eroding support for the ANC.
Zuma has acknowledged the Guptas are his friends, but denies that the relationship is in anyway improper.
Zuma’s son, Duduzane, is a director – along with Gupta family members – of at least six companies, documents show.
Political uncertainty has also contributed to a slide in the rand this year and could unnerve ratings agencies as they consider whether to downgrade South Africa to “junk” status, a move which would significantly raise the cost of borrowing. Cape Argus