Journalists inquiring whether certain ministers had visited the Gupta family at their home was a violation of privacy and unethical, the government said on Saturday.
Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said certain ministers’ offices had received media inquiries asking whether their ministers had been to the Gupta family’s house or knew of any ministers who had been.
“Government views these questions as an irresponsible fishing expedition that amounts to the violation of the privacy of ministers,” Manyi said.
“There is no law in South Africa that prohibits anyone, including Cabinet ministers, from visiting the house of any person they so wish. Freedom of association is a constitutionally enshrined right enjoyed by all citizens.”
“The violation of the right to privacy and freedom of association because of the urge by some media to publish any hearsay as news and scandalise innocent relationships as corrupt is, in our view, devoid of ethical journalism,” he said.
The Sunday Times had last week reported that a revolt was brewing in the ANC and its alliance partners against the influence of the Gupta family over President Jacob Zuma and his government.
The newspaper said it understood that the Guptas’ role in influencing the appointment of CEOs and chairpersons in key state-owned enterprises was recently raised at an ANC national working committee meeting and would be formerly discussed at its next gathering in a week.
ANC deployment committee members revealed at a meeting last Monday that new Transnet CEO Brian Molefe, believed to be favoured by the Guptas, had been appointed by the Cabinet without their say.
The Gupta brothers — Atul, Ajay and Rajesh, also known as Tony — are said to wield so much power that they often summon Cabinet ministers and senior government officials to their family compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
The Guptas, through family spokesperson Gary Naidoo, dismissed the allegations as “rubbish” and said they were an attempt to “denigrate” Zuma and his office. – Sapa