EMBARGOED: 001, 1/04/2016
JOHANNESBURG – In the light of the Constitutional Court ruling concerning Nkandla, the Gupta family is to make a R100 million payment to the South African government to end the pressure on President Jacob Zuma to pay back some of the taxpayers money spent on lavish upgrades at his private residence.
Family spokesman Haranath Ghosh described the donation as a “generous gesture to a generous nation.”
It was, he said, “recognition of what President Zuma and the South African people had done for the Gupta family.”
The spokesman added that the payment was a “drop in the ocean” for the Gupta family who have amassed huge wealth through their various business dealings in South Africa, much of it linked to state enterprises.
The Constitutional Court found that President Zuma failed to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution of South Africa.
This was the damning, unanimous judgment handed down by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) case to force Mr Zuma to pay back the money spent on Nkandla security upgrades.
Mr Zuma’s failure to implement the public protector’s remedial action contained in her Nkandla report in the absence of a legal challenge to it, was “illegal”.
President Zuma has come under increasing pressure from across the political spectrum to make a substantial contribution towards the ‘extras’ that were fitted during renovations to his family’s complex.
Government ministers tried to pass off the upgrades as necessary security improvements. But a report by the Public Protector said the President and his family had unduly benefitted from the work.
A report in the Sunday Times showed how state funds were used to pay for air-conditioning, fittings, doormats, fixtures and other features for three houses at the homestead.
The ANC has admitted, through its parliamentary chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, that the scandal around Nkandla has damaged its reputation.
“We lost face and we cannot afford to lose face again,” Mthembu told the Justice Factor show on Monday evening.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane, called on Parliament to impeach Zuma. Mr Maimane said that the case confirmed what South Africans have long held, that the president personally benefitted from the upgrades which took place at his R247 million private Nkandla residence.
The bid probably won’t succeed because the ANC holds more than 60 percent of the seats in Parliament. Previous attempts by opposition parties to oust Zuma have failed.
The President’s close relationship with the Guptas has also been widely criticised, with allegations that they have had favoured access to the top echelons of the state, even influencing some of Zuma’s decision-making.
Dubbed “Zuptagate” in the media, the issue has dominated the political landscape in South Africa for months.