Shock­ing ex­posés -- but no re­ac­tion

Sunday Times - - OPINION -

LAST Sun­day we brought you the first in­stal­ment of our on­go­ing cov­er­age of what is shap­ing up to be the biggest story of re­cent times. Since then our re­porters have worked tire­lessly piec­ing to­gether bits of in­for­ma­tion con­tained in leaked e-mails from the Gupta fam­ily, to pro­duce con­tent that proves con­clu­sively that the Gupta fam­ily, friends of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, have taken over the run­ning of the coun­try.

For years, as the me­dia in this coun­try, we have writ­ten ex­ten­sively on the in­flu­ence the fam­ily have over govern­ment de­part­ments, boards of state-owned en­ter­prises and even the ANC it­self.

We mostly re­lied on our sources for this in­for­ma­tion as we did not have any con­clu­sive proof. That proof fi­nally landed on our desks last weekend — an ex­ter­nal hard drive con­tain­ing be­tween 100 000 and 200 000 e-mails from Gupta fam­ily mem­bers, as­so­ciates, govern­ment em­ploy­ees, politi­cians and prom­i­nent South Africans.

Spend­ing the week min­ing the 87GB of data has been painful. The e-mails chron­i­cle a sorry saga of how our coun­try is be­ing stolen right in front of our eyes.

At the heart of this cap­ture is Zuma, his son Duduzane and the three Gupta brothers, Ajay, Atul and Tony. They have in­fil­trated ev­ery sphere of govern­ment. They run our paras­tatals. They ap­point ex­ec­u­tives and board mem­bers. They have a di­rect hot­line to min­is­ters and MPs. Last week we told how the e-mails ex­posed a min­is­ter who leaked sen­si­tive govern­ment doc­u­ments to the fam­ily be­fore the cab­i­net had dis­cussed the is­sue.

The cap­ture of our state does not stop with our cab­i­net. In this edi­tion is a story about Iqbal Sharma, a board mem­ber at Transnet. The e-mails re­veal how he shared con­fi­den­tial board com­mit­tee doc­u­ments with the Gup­tas ahead of cru­cial board meet­ings.

It is the fam­ily’s prox­im­ity to Zuma that has em­bold­ened them. Since Zuma as­cended to the high­est of­fice in the land, the fam­ily and their as­so­ciates, in­clud­ing Duduzane, have amassed a for­tune. Their wealth is now counted in bil­lions of rands. From just one con­tract they stand to walk away with just over R5-bil­lion. The e-mails show that Gupta as­so­ci­ate Salim Essa, through an off­shore com­pany, re­ceived 20% of a R25-bil­lion con­tract awarded to Chi­nese rolling stock man­u­fac­turer China South Rail. All he did was to “as­sist” it to win a por­tion of Transnet’s multi­bil­lion-rand ten­der for lo­co­mo­tives.

We have rea­son to be­lieve that bil­lions of rands have al­ready left the coun­try. To­day we re­port that, in just 10 months in 2015, they moved about R500-mil­lion into off­shore ac­counts.

So why have we de­cided to tell you all this? The an­swer is sim­ple. We want to make you an­gry. We want to move you to ac­tion. We want you to ques­tion why, af­ter a week of re­port­ing this scan­dal, not even one per­son has been called in, even if it is for ques­tion­ing, by law-en­force­ment agen­cies. Had this been any­where else in the world, some­one would have stepped down or been fired or ar­rested by now.

The ques­tion is why.

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