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Gupta Family 'Unfairly Targeted' In South Africa

The Guptas have announced they would relinquish all their shareholdings in South African businesses by the end of the year

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South Africa's Gupta family, subjected to a wide range of allegations of irregular business dealings because of their ties to President Jacob Zuma, said they are being unfairly targeted by people wanting to score political points.

The brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh, who arrived from India at the advent of democracy under Nelson Mandela in the 1990s, announced on Saturday that they would relinquish all their shareholdings in South African businesses by the end of the year.

They have set up a huge information technology company, Sahara Computers, before branching into a range of businesses.

"In the current scenario, the Gupta family is caught in a crossfire," their family spokesman Gary Naidoo told PTI.

"Because of the latest changes in political scenario, the media is targeting the family to score political points," Naidoo said.

He was referring to the pressure that African National Congress and President Zuma are currently under following the party's losses in the recent local government poll. There is also tension between Zuma and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

"The Gupta family businesses are significantly smaller in comparison to the top businesses in the country and the disproportionate media focus tells you there is a hidden agenda behind targeting the family businesses," Naidoo said, but did not elaborate on who was behind the "hidden agenda".

In recent years, the family has been the subject of many controversies, most of them linked to their allegedly close relationship with Zuma and other top ANC leaders, but no charges had been brought against them.

Earlier, there had been claims that because of the success of Gupta-owned daily newspaper 'The New Age' and TV channel 'ANN7', both with support from Indian partners, South African competitors consistently reported negatively on the family.

"Most certainly, because of the constant media negativity, there is scepticism amongst business entities which is affecting future business deals," Naidoo said.

"Hence the decision to sell all their shareholding to help secure the jobs of their thousands of employees and let the businesses prosper, as they are built on business ethics and sound family values.

"Following their decision to step down from all executive and non-executive positions in all South African business in April 2016, the Gupta family believed that now the time is right to exit their shareholding of the South African businesses to benefit all existing employees of various group companies, and help lead to further growth in the businesses."

Their journey in South Africa began with Sahara Computers.

"They found the business environment quite conducive and expanded their footprints into other sectors. Over 23 years the family business expanded into IT, mining, media, manufacturing and real estate with over 7,500 employees under their roll," Naidoo said.

"The family took South African citizenship and invested heavily on black empowerment, skills transfer, and social responsibility initiatives to bridge the economic gap among different communities of the country," Naidoo concluded.

(PTI)


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south africa jacob zuma indian diaspora