‘Gup­tas not fund­ing AD’

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

ALLIANCE of Democrats ( AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki has re­futed al­le­ga­tions that his party was be­ing funded by the con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily which has over the years, made head­lines over its deal­ings with South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma.

Spec­u­la­tion had been rife that the AD could be get­ting for­eign fund­ing af­ter a pic­ture of a man of south Asian de­scent wear­ing an AD T-shirt went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia in the days that fol­lowed the party’s for­ma­tion af­ter Mr Moleleki dumped the Demo­cratic Congress (DC) last month.

Many sug­gested the man was a mem­ber of the Gupta fam­ily, a claim that has been de­nied by Mr Moleleki.

“I saw the pic­ture and my sis­ter in-law even jok­ingly asked if we had the Gup­tas in our party with­out know­ing the whole is­sue would come to this,” Mr Moleleki said this week, adding, “But se­ri­ously I don’t know the man in the pic­ture”.

“Of course we have fi­nanciers and they are not at all of the Asian or In­dian ori­gin. How could we sus­tain a po­lit­i­cal party with­out fi­nan­cial back­ing, surely we need fi­nan­cial sup­port,” he said.

AD Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Mokhele Mo­let­sane con­curred with Mr Moleleki, adding, “The man in the pic­ture could just be a busi­ness­man in Le­sotho with­out any con­nec­tions to the Gup­tas.

“He may not even be aware that his pic­ture was posted on Face­book. We have no re­la­tion­ship what­so­ever with the Gup­tas.”

Con­tacted for com­ment the Gupta fam­ily said al­though they were aware of the pic­ture and the al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing it, they did not know the man “and he is defi- nitely not one of us”.

“We are not politi­cians and are not af­fil­i­ated to any po­lit­i­cal party any­where in the world. We are not in any way aligned to the AD.”

The Gupta fam­ily is said to have asked one of their lo­cal friends, one Mr Mpopo Tšoele to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions with a view to press­ing charges if it turned out the man was claim­ing to be a mem­ber of the fam­ily as that would be tar­nish­ing their rep­u­ta­tion.

AD youth league Sec­re­tary Gen­eral, Le­tuka Chafotsa said it should not come as a sur­prise if more peo­ple who are not Ba­sotho ex­pressed sup­port for the party as they had “friends and fol­low­ers ev­ery­where” who be­lieve in the AD.

The Gup­tas are a wealthy fam­ily of three broth­ers from Ut­tar in In­dia who in­vested immensely in min­ing, me­dia and en­gi­neer­ing in South Africa to build them­selves an em­pire.

They have how­ever, been linked to some shady deal­ings with the rul­ing African Na­tional Congress (ANC) party and Pres­i­dent Zuma.

The al­le­ga­tions have never been proven in a court of law.

In 2014, one of the broth­ers, Atul Gupta was ap­pointed as a spe­cial ad­vi­sor to for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane along with his nephew, Essa Omar Aziz. The duo were given diplo­matic pass­ports which were later can­celled by the cur­rent regime of Prime Min­is­ter Pakalitha Mo­sisili.

Dr Tha­bane said he had been in­tro­duced to the Gup­tas by Pres­i­dent Zuma and he needed their ser­vices to help mar­ket Le­sotho in Asia and scout for in­vest­ment.

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