Recent security scandal and flaw in South Africa exposed President Jacob Zuma’s weak spot. It’s reported that an Indian plane carrying a wedding entourage landed at a military base near Pretoria contrary to the norm and law. This act of aggression and transgression to the security of the country regarded as Africa’s big brother, miffed and irked many people in and outside South Africa.
The plane carrying the suspicious family of Gupta and their Indian guests was heading for a wedding between Vega Gupta and Indian born Aakash Jahajgarhia in the Sun City, left South Africa paralysed. Controversial as the Guptas have always been, enjoying special treatment thanks to being business partners to Zuma’s son Duduzane. Like any prince in a corrupt Africa, Duduzane is a source of wealthy for any con man that’s able to fix and use him. This is what the Guptas were able to do. Untoward Zuma-Gupta’s relationship is an open secret in South Africa since 1994. Just as his rape scandal of 2 November 2005, the Gupta scandal has galvanized Zuma’s dectactors who want to see a thorough investigation into the matter. Again, thanks to cronies and tribal politics Zuma has always survived.
One South African political analyst Fabian Scherer puts Zuma-Gupta’s marriage of convenience as thus, “The issue shows to what extent private businessmen, particularly with good relationships with the president and his family, have gained influence on South Africa’s parastatals.”
Fabian is not alone. Zuma-Gupta business baffled even other countries that once hosted him. In India, Mail and Globe quoted a source who was in Zuma’s entourage reporting how Indian authorities were shocked saying, “They were asked why the president is hanging around with these guys… they don’t have a great reputation in India.”
Despite all ire and the way the scandal has roiled South Africa, Zuma seems to remain unmoved. Even his son is scantly touched but the whole burden is on the shoulders of his officials and confidantes. His government jumped a smoking gun saying that it was “gravely concerned”. Justice Minister Jeff Radebe was quoted as saying, “Government is gravely concerned at this violation of the security protocol and total disregard of established practice for clearing the landing of aircraft in a military facility that is of strategic importance to the country.”
To show how influential and out of touch the Guptas are, one of them was quoted as saying, “I don’t know what they want…. The airplane had permission. No airplane in the world can land without permission.” Who permitted the plane to land and not only to land but land in the military base?
A day after saying that there was nothing wrong about the Jet landing, the Guptas were quoted as saying, “In light of what happened… the family would like to issue a general apology to all affected, including the South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests,” said Atul Gupta in a statement. You can connect the dots and see the big pictures Zuma-Gupta cabal does not want anybody to see.
Though all is left for the government-cobbled commission to investigate, some major question any person can ask are: “Is South Africa reliable security wise if anybody can just get into its territory and land at the military base without any detection?”
Why didn’t the Guptas want their plane to land at O Tambo International Airport? Did the plane have illegal items such as weapons, drugs, illegal immigrants and whatnot? Why taking such a risk which would have resulted into bringing down the jet had such a thing happened in countries like US or even in South Africa had the military decided to intervene?
Will South Africans keep on staying aside and look as Zuma-Gupta relationship is driving their countries to demise? Are Guptas the mere pawns Zuma uses to man his business as it has been the tradition of African corrupt rulers? Is Zuma being used due to being gullible? M&G ran a story in 2012 accusing Zuma of benefiting from the Guptas and wrote, “There is evidence that the Gupta family is helping first lady number four, Bongi Ngema-Zuma, pay off her R3.8-million home loan.” There was no logical rebuttal to these belittling allegations from Zuma. This means what’s alleged was taken as true.
Why haven’t Zuma and his son learned from the plights-cum-quandaries of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak? Ask Guy Scott, Zambian vice president who was recently quoted as saying, “I quite like him, he seems a rather genial character but I pity him his advisers.” Will SA rid itself of the Guptas and their tick-like menace?
Nkwazi Mhango is a Tanzanian living in Canada. He writes regularly for “The African Executive” and also has a blog entitled “Free Thinking Unabii”. He is a regular contributor to AfroSpear.