Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema has written on Twitter about his concern that the Gupta family’s statement that they will be selling all their shares in South Africa by the end of the year may merely be an attempt to keep trading in South Africa by other means.
He tweeted shortly after the statement: “Anyone thinking of being a #Gupta‘s front, Pasop.”
Anyone thinking of being a #Gupta's front, Pasop
— Julius Sello Malema (@Julius_S_Malema) August 27, 2016
He was referring to the fact that even though the family has said it will be selling its shares, it might only be doing so because of the unpopularity of the Gupta name. By selling to a company headed by someone not directly linked to the Guptas, that would be “fronting” if that entity were still somehow indirectly controlled by the family.
Malema has long been a thorn in the side of the Guptas, and he even went as far as to allege that President Jacob Zuma had personally worked as a courier using a presidential jet to deliver huge amounts of cash to the family’s new home, Dubai.
The Guptas earlier this year already stepped down from the boards of their companies, but that still did not change the views of the country’s banks, which continued to refuse to trade with any Gupta companies. Only time will tell if the Guptas selling their shares will have any effect on this problem. The CEO of one of their companies, Oakbay, Nazeem Howa, has complained that Gupta staff have been victimised as a result of the “vendetta” against the family.
The EFF’s deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, also called for the various investigations of the family’s affairs, including those being led by the Financial Intelligence Centre, Reserve Bank and the SA Revenue Service to be finalised before the family is able to get out of the country completely.
The Financial Intelligence Centre, SARB & SARS must expedite the Gupta investigation and close them down before #GuptExit is finalized.
— Floyd Shivambu (@FloydShivambu) August 27, 2016
The Guptas’ statement on Saturday afternoon, which has since been trending on social media said: “Since our decision to step down from all executive and non-executive positions in all our South African business in April 2016, the local management team has grown our businesses from strength to strength, with turnover and profits showing good growth and more jobs created.
“As a family, we now believe that the time is right for us to exit our shareholding of the South African businesses, which we believe will benefit our existing employees, and lead to further growth in the businesses.”
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They said buyers were already potentially lined up and would be announced in time.
“We believe that this decision is in the best interests of our business, the country and our colleagues,” they added.
Since a decision by all the country’s major banks, their JSE sponsor and their auditors to refuse to do business with the family or any of the companies they own, the Guptas have struggled to operate in the country. They have been heavily criticised for their close relationship with President Jacob Zuma and allegations of attempts at state capture.
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Their companies are involved in many sectors, including computing and electronics, mass media and mining.
They are understood to have relocated to Dubai months ago already.