Brown’s assistant is latest scalp claimed by #GuptaLeaks
PUBLIC Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s personal assistant, Kim Davids, has joined the growing list of Gupta acolytes who were pushed out of government under a cloud following their links to the politically connected family.
In a shock move yesterday, Brown axed Davids but stressed that her decision “is not an expression of guilt” on her former aide who is linked to the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma’s personal friends.
Several other Gupta lieutenants, including former Eskom bosses Ben Ngubane and Brian Molefe, left the government under a cloud recently following allegations of corruption involving the Guptas, which are contained in a trove of leaked e-mails dubbed #GuptaLeaks.
Another Gupta ally, Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh, who has been at pains to explain his luxurious trips to Dubai allegedly funded by the Guptas, has been placed on suspension at the request of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and Brown.
Yesterday, Brown said she was confronted by allegations against Davids, who came under scrutiny after leaked emails put her firmly at the centre of a Dubai hotel bill and a chauffeured drive to the Guptas’ home in the wealthy Arab city.
“In the interest of fairness, I asked Ms Davids to respond to these allegations. I was satisfied with her responses but I felt the continuous allegations against her could compromise the legitimacy of my office. My decision is not an expression of guilt on the part of Ms Davids. However, it is important that my office is above reproach. I want to thank Ms Davids for her service and wish her well,” Brown said in a statement.
Davids, however, has denied any wrongdoing on her part, saying she paid for the Dubai trip herself.
When contacted for comment, she said before cutting off the call: “I’m not saying anything. No comment.”
Davids, according to journalism investigative units amaBhungane and Scorpio, wielded so much influence over Brown that she would “tackle senior officials” in meetings, even “instructing” them on occasion.
Davids, they said, was so powerful that she allegedly personally managed the process to select new board appointments to state-owned enterprises during 2015 when some crucial appointments of persons sympathetic to the Guptas were made.
The Parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee was expected to start an inquiry into allegations of corruption and state capture involving the Guptas and their acolytes in state-owned enterprises.
Committee members were said to be gunning for the Gupta brothers and their business partner, Zuma’s son Duduzane, Ngubane and Molefe, among others, to appear before the committee and answer allegations that due processes were flouted to benefit the immigrant Indian family.
In an interview on BBC Radio 4 this week, one of the Gupta brothers, Atul, said the leaked emails were part of an agenda to distort the family’s name.
“There is no authenticity of #GuptaLeaks at all. They are all there for perception mongering to drive their own agenda. No one has ever showed me authenticity of these mails,” he said.
Atul, who was named as the seventh-richest South African last year, said the London-based PR firm Bell Pottinger was only hired to do corporate public relations for the family’s company, Oakbay Resources.
The discredited PR firm is accused of stoking racial tensions in the country to protect the Guptas’ reputation. They have since dropped the Guptas as a client.