The fallout from the alleged activities of the Guptas continues to have a wrecking ball effect on people’s careers and corporate reputations alike. It is like a domino game.
Only a thoroughly oblivious or naive person would remain blind to the chain reaction, and its cumulative effect, produced by the alleged actions of the Guptas. The presence and conduct of the Guptas in South Africa have been nothing but toxic.
For starters, they have soiled President Jacob Zuma's legacy. And they did so with his full acquiescence. President Zuma had an opportunity to call the Guptas to order when it first emerged that they had a tendency to casually mention his name in order to impress or get their way. He didn’t.
Even as the state capture allegations swirl around them, bringing him into the eye of the storm, he has not expressed any concern whatsoever. In this regard, we should not feel sorry for President Zuma for what the Guptas have done to his name. It is obvious he values his friendship with them more than his own reputation and legacy.
But the President is not alone. There are other Cabinet ministers who have been severely compromised by the family. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, when he was the MEC for agriculture, allegedly drove the Free State provincial government to adopt the controversial dairy project which was ultimately used by the Guptas to pay for their family wedding in Sun City. The other allegations, such as him travelling with the Guptas to Dubai and Switzerland, make this Zwane-Guptas collaboration difficult to dismiss.
Then there is Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi who, when she was Minister of Communications, allegedly shared with one of the Gupta brothers confidential Cabinet information. She has not denied the veracity of these allegations nor offered any reasonable explanation for a communication of this nature between her and one of the Gupta brothers.
Minister Des Van Rooyen, once a former Finance Minister albeit short-lived, reportedly arrived at Treasury with two Gupta allies as his advisors. If it wasn’t so tragic, one would actually laugh at these bungles.
There are other politicians whose careers have been impacted negatively because of the suspected hand of the Guptas. These include Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Mcebisi Jonas and Pravin Gordhan who all refused to be intimidated or to play along.
The domino effect is not limited to politicians. Professionals have been affected too. Brian Molefe’s career lies in tatters. Without underplaying the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices, the question has to be asked where Molefe would be career-wise had he not associated himself with the Guptas? The same can be said about Eskom’s chief financial officer Anoj Singh. He is suspended today primarily because of things he allegedly signed off for the Guptas.
Then there is Moses Kgosana, the former KPMG Chief Executive Officer, accused of having had a cosy relationship with the Gupta family. He was invited to that infamous Gupta family wedding at Sun City and later praised it to the heavens, writing to one of the Gupta brothers: “My wife and I were privileged to attend and enjoyed every moment of the occasion. I have never been to an event like that and probably will not because it was an event of the millennium.”
This did not sound like an independent auditor but a grovelling individual eager to keep an audit account. Of course, we now know that that wedding was paid for through public funds from the Free State government reserved for a dairy farm project in Vrede – the same one Zwane drove in favour of the Guptas.
Also, we now know a Gupta company, Linkway Trading (Pty) Ltd, listed the wedding as a “business expense” and KPMG overlooked it. This despite a junior auditor working with Linkway’s financial statements writing to a senior partner, “We are of the opinion that these [wedding-related] costs are most probably not in the production of Linkway’s income.”
Though all this emerged after Kgosana had left KPMG, he has become one of the fallen dominoes. He has had to resign from Alexander Forbes Africa where he was due for appointment as Chairperson of the Board. Nine of his former colleagues at KPMG have had to resign in a fallout over the audit’s firm involvement with the controversial Gupta family. These include KPMG SA Board Chairperson Ahmed Jaffer, its CEO Trevor Hoole and its Chief Operating Officer Steven Louw, among others.
With PR firm Bell Pottinger in the UK having fallen following its unethical dealings with the Guptas, sights are now set on other companies like McKinsey and SAP which are said to have improperly benefited from their association with the Guptas.
It is still going to be a traumatic night of long knives as more politicians, professionals and corporates fall in this saga. But if this contributes to a spring cleaning of our politics and boardrooms, so be it.
We hope that the investigation by the Hawks will be concluded soon and a judiciary commission of inquiry on the state capture will be appointed immediately so that people can have the opportunity to clear their names.
I call upon church and religious leaders to pray for our country and in particular our leaders to do the right thing.
PASTOR RAY MCCAULEY IS THE PRESIDENT OF RHEMA FAMILY CHURCHES AND CO-CHAIRPERSON OF THE NATIONAL RELIGIOUS LEADERS COUNCIL (NRLC)