A cache of damning emails between members of the Gupta family, some of their trusted lieutenants and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, has brought forward fresh details on the mechanics of the Guptas’ dubious state capture strategies.
City Press, News24’s sister publication, on Sunday revealed astonishing details on the dealings between the Guptas, their companies and some of South Africa’s most senior government officials.
These new revelations were contained in hundreds of emails that were leaked to the newspaper.
One of the emails in the large cache of documents is an email from Gupta associate Ashu Chawla to Duduzane Zuma, sent in January 2016. The email contains two letters apparently drafted by President Jacob Zuma, in which he seeks the blessing of both the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his family to make the UAE their “second home.”
Another email sent by Chawla, this time to the luxurious Oberoi Hotel in Dubai, details how Chawla apparently organised for the rental of a BMW 7 series to be paid for on behalf of mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
The timing of the email, which was sent in December 2015, is crucial, seeing as the Guptas were at that juncture in the midst of tense negotiations to purchase the Optimum coal mine from international mining giant Glencore. Zwane, who according to some of the other leaked emails also travelled in the Guptas’ private jet at the time, has been accused of playing a key role in forcing Glencore’s hand in the sale of the coal mine.
Chawla also sent an email to the same hotel in January 2016 in which payment for a luxury suite for the now suspended senior Eskom executive Matshela Koko is discussed.
“Sahara will pay the entire bill please do not ask any credit card guarantee from the guest at the time of check in,” Chawla wrote the hotel in relation to Koko’s stay.
The former acting Eskom CEO, in his earlier role as the parastatal’s group executive for power generation, last year signed an Eskom document in which the state-owned power utility approved a prepayment of nearly R600 million to the Guptas’ coal mining venture Tegeta Exploration and Resources. Koko was later infamously caught on camera lying about the prepayment on current affairs television television show Carte Blanche.
The fourth email News24 is publishing today is an email from an employee of Bell Pottinger, a controversial UK-based public relations firm that the Guptas had roped in earlier to help them deal with the tsunami of state capture allegations against them that started to surface in March 2016.
The email was written by one Philip Peck right after former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas went public about a massive bribe the Guptas allegedly offered him if he chose to do their bidding at Treasury.
Peck’s email appears to be an attempt by Bell Pottinger to plant a story in which it was alleged that Jonas himself had been guilty of receiving bribes.
It is not clear whether the apparent plan was ever put in motion.