New batch of emails on ′Zuptagate′ scandal released | Africa | DW | 29.05.2017
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Africa

New batch of emails on 'Zuptagate' scandal released

Two South African media organizations have released more documents alleging improper dealings between President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family. Previously, Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

After surviving a vote of no confidence from his African National Congress (ANC) party's national executive committee, South African President Jacob Zuma is facing renewed backlash after a cache of emails revealed that the wealthy Indian Gupta family has long been involved in the government's affairs.

The emails, published by leading weekend papers the Sunday Times and the City Press, contain communication that reveals a great extent to which the Gupta family has exercised control over Cabinet ministers, state enterprises, government policy and decisions.

Damaging content reveals Gupta influence

One email reveals that the Gupta family was given the Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane's CV, a month before he was appointed by President Zuma. Another email shows that Minister Des van Rooyen, who was appointed by Zuma to replace Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and removed after four days when the economy took a nose dive, had his trip to Dubai fully paid for by the Guptas.

Another email contains communication between former Communications Minister Faith Mutambi and the Guptas on government's policy plans.

In one of the emails containing a copy of a letter from Zuma to authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), he claims to have chosen the UAE as his second home.

This has angered opposition parties, who now want Parliament to start a full investigation into Zuma's conduct. Democratic Alliance Party leader Mmusi Maimane told DW his party is drafting an affidavit to open criminal charges against President Zuma.

"Jacob Zuma without doubt is the head of a criminal organization. The ANC's failure to recall Jacob Zuma indicates that their successful project of state capture is in fact an ANC project," he said.

South African's protest against President Jacob Zuma (Reuters/S. Sibeko)

South African President Jacob Zuma maintains party support but is increasingly unpopular with the voting public after ongoing allegations of corruption

Revelations unlikely to derail presidency

Political analyst Sithembile Mbete told DW these allegations are extremely serious for a president but cautions that Zuma can still survive these as he has already done after other major past controversies.

"I think that what we are seeing is the building up of evidence of those who do want the president to step down, but I don't think that it is automatic that it is going to lead to a decision to ask the president to resign or to recall him from his position as the state president," she said.

Meanwhile, the Guptas family lawyer, Gert Van der Merwe, has dismissed the emails, claiming that he first wants to verify their authenticity.

Zuma has since released a statement claiming that he will return to his Nkandla home after retirement instead of the UAE.

Support within the ANC

The explosive revelation follows soon after the weekend ANC national executive meeting, during which Zuma survived a vote of no confidence from his party's members. Party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a media briefing in Johannesburg that there was a robust discussion on the issue with some in favor, others against while some were neutral, but no decision was taken.

"It's a gathering of 110 members. One hundred and ten members can't sit like a jury. They are too many," he said.

South African independent political analyst Daniel Silke told DW that Zuma maintains strong support within the ANC.

"I think what it continues to show is that the composition of the National Executive Committee remains fairly firmly within President Zuma's grasp," he said.

Zuma is still facing a no confidence vote in Parliament, which is expected to take place as soon as the courts deliver their verdict on whether that vote should be through an open or secret ballot.

But Silke told DW the more protection he receives from the ANC, the more support the party stands to lose as they continue to lose credibility with South Africa's voting public.

"The issue is that anybody now who is associated with Jacob Zuma, or who is seen being a part of his brand or who is largely supportive of him will find it very difficult to claw back any kind of popular support amongst voters. So the protection of Zuma is really correlated directly with the weakening of the ANC as a political force in South Africa."

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