Response to 'Parastatals in Guptas' web' article

In the March 25 edition, the Mail & Guardian published a front page story, entitled: Parastatals in Guptas’ web

The article in question focused on a spider’s web of contacts within the boards of state-owned-enterprises, Transnet and Eskom, aligned to the powerful Gupta family.  As an Eskom’s board member since December 2014, I was completely surprised to be associated with the Guptas’ networks mentioned above. 

  While it is a matter of public record that I once tried to venture into mining with Salim Essa, the M&G failed to clarify that the company in question was actually dormant. 

  Secondly, Ujiri Mining has never traded at all nor participated in any lucrative mining deals.

The paper also further neglected to clarify that the company has had no direct links whatsoever with the Gupta family.  Furthermore, the paper failed to make it clear that there is no single shred of evidence of skulduggery emanating from this mining venture or my association with Essa. 

  Lastly, the M&G’s article and the infographics insinuated or rather created an impression that my association with Essa equaled to a direct relationship with the Gupta family. Besides my association with Essa, I am surprised as to why the M&G decided to involve me in an article demonstrating the power and influence of the Gupta family over certain government officials and boards while I have had no dealings with them; either as Director of the Eskom Board or as a director of any other company. 

  The inclusion of my name in the spider’s web of the Gupta family’s influence in government is purely misleading and it’s clearly intended to unfairly drag my name into the gutter of State capture politics. I must place it on record that I signed up to the Eskom board to serve and contribute and I have served diligently and honestly on the main board and as a member of sub-committees.
In my time as a member of the board, we have worked closely with the new management team under the leadership of CEO Brian Molefe to rescue Eskom from a state of perpetual crisis management to a stable power supplier for the country. Last but not least, I would also like to put it on record that since the day of my appointment I’ve never been asked by anyone to work with the Gupta family or to take instructions from them or anyone representing them.  By dragging my name into the state capture narrative, the article sought to place me in a network of alleged corrupt activities and thus damage a reputation that has taken decades of hard, honest work to build. 

  I abhor corruption and take serious umbrage at your newspaper associating with such practice. I am familiar with the South African Press Code which enjoins newspapers to report “truthfully, accurately and fairly” and to avoid   any “intentional or negligent departure from the facts whether by distortion, exaggeration or misrepresentation, material omissions, or summarisation.” In compiling the report the M&G’s journalists departed from fair journalistic practice in order to be able to insert my name into the story. 

  Had they exercised basic journalistic practice they would have easily discovered the facts as they have been outlined above. — Romeo Kumalo 

Note from the editor: The Mail & Guardian and amaBhungane gave Mr Kumalo 24 hours to comment or correct the facts and allegations that were later published and he did not do so ahead of publication.

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