Three peo­ple held, up to seven more likely to be ar­rested in­clud­ing some Gupta fam­ily mem­bers

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Agen­cies let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ ▪

Heav­ily armed South African po­lice raided the lux­ury home of the Gupta fam­ily on Wed­nes­day as part of a probe into al­le­ga­tions the three brothers had cor­rupt links to Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, who has been or­dered by the rul­ing ANC to quit as head of state. The raid marks a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion in the pres­sure on Zuma and the po­lit­i­cal fac­tion around him ac­cused of milk­ing state re­sources for their own ends. It re­mains un­clear whether the 75-year-old will throw in the towel, or dig in deeper.

JO­HAN­NES­BURG: South Africa’s rul­ing party ANC on Wed­nes­day un­veiled plans to sack Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma via a par­lia­men­tary no-con­fi­dence vote, hours af­ter armed po­lice raided the lux­ury home of his In­dian-ori­gin friends, the Gupta brothers.

Zuma fought back against the or­der from the African Na­tional Congress to im­me­di­ately re­sign over cor­rup­tion, say­ing he had been un­fairly treated and was given no rea­son for quit­ting.

Lo­cal me­dia re­ported that Ajay Gupta, the el­dest of the Gupta brothers, and one or two of the fam­ily’s as­so­ciates were of­fi­cially un­der ar­rest af­ter the early morn­ing raid in which the po­lice’s elite Hawks unit took part. But a lawyer de­nied this

“The me­dia has got it wrong. None of the Gupta brothers have been ar­rested. I can’t tell you who has been ar­rested,” the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the fam­ily told Reuters. City Press news­pa­per re­ported that Ajay Gupta has been ar­rested, adding that au­thor­i­ties were hunt­ing for Zuma’s son, Duduzane. It also said that Atul Gupta was in talks with the Hawks to hand him­self over.

The early morn­ing raid marked a dra­matic es­ca­la­tion in the pres­sure on Zuma and the po­lit­i­cal fac­tion around him ac­cused of milk­ing state re­sources for their own ends. Zuma, 75, de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

With the ANC back­ing an op­po­si­tion-led no-con­fi­dence mo­tion likely to be heard on Thurs­day, Zuma ap­pears to have run out of fuel af­ter nine years in of­fice dogged by scan­dal and eco­nomic stag­na­tion.

ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu said deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa, whose elec­tion as head of the ANC in De­cem­ber marked the be­gin­ning of the end of Zuma’s ten­ure, could be sworn in as head of state as early as Fri­day. “Af­ter we have voted for the re­moval of the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic to­mor­row – and de­pend­ing on the avail­abil­ity of the Chief Jus­tice – we will also elect a new pres­i­dent,” Mthembu said.

The speed of Zuma’s down­fall af­ter two weeks of dither­ing by the ANC has stunned South Africa. In a ram­bling 45-minute in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day, Zuma did not di­rectly refuse to re­sign, but said he dis­agreed with “the man­ner in which the de­ci­sion is be­ing im­ple­mented.”

“It was very un­fair to me that this is­sue is raised,” he said. “No­body has ever pro­vided the rea­sons. No­body is say­ing what I have done.”

He re­peat­edly said he was not de­fy­ing the ANC lead­er­ship, but added that “I don’t agree, as there is no ev­i­dence of if I have done any­thing wrong.”

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