South Africa Gupta row: ANC’s Mantashe warns of ‘mafia state’ – BBC News

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This file photo taken on November 10, 2015 shows South African President Jacob Zuma attending a press conference following talks with the German Chancellor at the chancellery in Berlin. Beleaguered South African President Jacob Zuma faces on March 1, 2016Image copyright

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Jacob Zuma has been battling allegations of corruption since he took office

South Africa risks turning into a “mafia state”, a senior governing party official has warned, as pressure grows on President Jacob Zuma over his links with a wealthy family.

Gwede Mantashe made the comments after deputy Finance Minister Mcebesi Jonas alleged the Gupta family had offered him a government promotion.

The family has denied the allegation.

Main opposition leader Mmusi Maimane was thrown out of parliament during a rowdy session over the controversy.

Mr Mantashe is the third most powerful person in the governing African National Congress (ANC), and his remarks suggest Mr Zuma may be losing the confidence of influential members of the party, correspondents say.

Mr Zuma’s presidency has been marred by allegations of corruption, cronyism and incompetence, amid a worsening economic situation.

The crisis deepened on Wednesday, when Mr Jonas said that a member of the Gupta family had made “a mockery of our hard-earned democracy” by offering to promote him to the minister’s job last year.

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Mcebisi Jonas (R), pictured with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan (L)

In an interview with Bloomberg, Mr Mantashe, the ANC secretary-general, said: “We need to deal with this; it will degenerate into a mafia state if this goes on.”

He is quoted by Reuters news agency as saying that no-one, including Mr Zuma, was “untouchable”.

Questioned by the opposition in parliament about Mr Jonas’ allegation, Mr Zuma said: “I’m in charge of the government. There is no minister who was ever appointed by the Guptas.”

Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) MPs walked out in solidarity with Mr Maimane after the speaker ordered him to leave for breaching parliamentary rules.

The Zumas and the Guptas

  • Bongi Ngema-Zuma, one of the president’s wives, used to work for the Gupta-controlled JIC Mining Services as a communications officer.
  • Duduzile Zuma, his daughter, was a director at Sahara Computers.
  • Duduzane Zuma, a son, is a director in some Gupta-owned companies.

Earlier, Mr Maimane said power had shifted from the government to the Guptas.

“You and your family are getting richer while South Africans are getting poorer,” he told Mr Zuma.

The left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party boycotted the session, saying it did not recognise Mr Zuma as leader of South Africa.

The opposition has long accused Mr Zuma of letting the Guptas wield excessive influence.

The Guptas, who arrived in South Africa from India in 1993, have huge interests in computers, air travel, energy, and technology.

They said Mr Jonas’ statement was political point-scoring.

In 2013, there was an outcry after a private jet carrying guests to the wedding of a Gupta family member was allowed to land at a South African military air force base in Pretoria.

The opposition has said that links between President Zuma and the Guptas were so close that they have been nicknamed the “Zuptas”.

South Africa Gupta row: ANC’s Mantashe warns of ‘mafia state’ – BBC News