DA lays treason charge against Zuma, Gupta Inc

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane. (Gallo)

The Democratic Alliance has laid charges against President Jacob Zuma, three Gupta brothers and eight others of treason, racketeering and corruption.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday that the party has accused those allegedly implicated in state capture of violating the Prevention of Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. 

The DA laid the charges at the Cape Town police station in the city centre.

In a statement, Maimane reasoned that the 12 accused were charged with treason “through unlawful conduct which violates, threatens or endangers the existence, independence and security of the Republic of South Africa or which has the effect of changing the constitutional structure of the Republic of South Africa”.

The 12 people the DA have laid charges against are:

1. Jacob Zuma

2. Atul Gupta

Ajay Gupta

4. Rajesh “Tony” Gupta

5. Ashwa Chawla (chief executive, Sahara)

6. Nazeem Howa (former chief executive, Oakbay)

7. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba

8. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane

9. Faith Muthambi, previously minister of communications, now public service and administration minister

10. Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen

11. Duduzane Zuma, the president’s son with close business links to the Guptas 

12. Matshela Koko (suspended acting chief executive of Eskom)

The party’s charge sheet relies heavily on emails published by media houses over the past three days. The emails – known as #GuptaEmails – were leaked from the Gupta-owned Sahara company. They tie Cabinet ministers, such as Van Rooyen, Muthambi, and Zwane, to Gupta patronage. 

Muthambi, reports state, leaked Cabinet minutes to the Gupta family through emails sent to Chawla.

The DA cites the emails, specifically parts that show Zwane’s CV was sent to the Guptas before he became mineral resources minister, and that President Zuma planned to acquire a residence in Dubai. Draft letters to General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan were written on Zuma’s behalf and were sent to Chawla in the emails.

The emails also show confirmation bookings sent to Chawla where Van Rooyen’s trip to Dubai shortly after he was appointed finance minister was paid for by the family.

Duduzane Zuma and Matshela Koko have also been implicated in the emails, while Nazeem Howa allegedly coached ANC Youth League president Collen Maine on how to deal with media questions about his relationship with the Guptas.

The DA has also asked for a Parliament ad hoc committee on state capture to be established. Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo confirmed that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, had received a letter from the DA requesting the establishment of the committee.

“We can confirm that the speaker has received the request from the DA. As it practice, the speaker will respond to the DA after applying her mind to the content of letter. As a principle, the function of establishing an ad hoc committee resides with the house (the National Assembly),” Mothapo said in an email.

Opposition parties and the ANC itself have agreed that a judicial commission into state capture must be established to investigate widespread allegations of the Guptas influence in the Cabinet and in state-owned enterprises. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said at a press conference on Monday that the party would welcome a judicial commission and encouraged the ANC to speed up their review of the public protector’s State of Capture report.

“If I’m captured by somebody other than the Guptas, I’m not better off than people who are captured by the Guptas. That’s why we open in 1994 to say ‘let’s drill deep and understand the extent of the influence of business on the ANC’. And if we can have a commission that does that for us, the ANC will be a better organisation,” Mantashe said.

The DA, in its charge sheet, also details Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle in March which saw former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas being ousted. The DA said the fallout had been a ratings downgrade for the South African economy by credit rating agencies, adding that some in the senior ANC echelon – such as Mantashe and ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa – had criticised the reshuffle.

Maimane is asking a parliamentary inquiry to be established with its proposed ad hoc committee so that Parliament can fulfil its mandate to hold the executive to account.

“We maintain that the situation requires a truly broad-based investigation that includes all the departments and individuals named in the leaked emails and the State of Capture report. That process must start with a parliamentary ad hoc committee and then, through a judicial commission of Inquiry, we will be able to uncover the truth as to how captured ministers and government officials have allowed the Guptas to control entire chunks of government,” Maimane said. 

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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