Johannesburg, Feb 14 (IANS) An elite South African police team on Wednesday raided the luxurious family home of the controversial Gupta family — a clan of Indian-born businessmen — linked to President Jacob Zuma as pressure increases on him to stand down.
Officials said three people were arrested as part of an investigation into the wealthy Guptas who are known to wield substantial influence in the South African politics due to close ties with the President, the BBC reported.
The Gupta family has been accused of “state capture” — using their close ties with Zuma and a number of senior government officials to influence ministerial appointments, secure multi-million dollar government contracts and gain access to inside information.
Meanwhile, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said that Zuma had until the end of the day to tender his resignation over a range of corruption charges or they would proceed with a vote of no-confidence in Parliament on Thursday.
The ANC has a majority in Parliament and opposition parties will not support Zuma. According to the Constitution, the President and the Cabinet must resign if the no-confidence motion passes.
On Tuesday, the ruling party had formally asked Zuma, who has been in power since 2009, to resign. His links to the Guptas are one of the reasons he was being forced to step down before the 2019 general election.
The Guptas and Zuma deny all allegations of wrongdoing.
The Hawks, South Africa’s priority crime unit, confirmed they searched the Gupta’s walled compound near Johannesburg zoo as part of an investigation into allegations of their influence-peddling in the government.
Another raid in Johannesburg targeted the home of the Managing Director of one of the principal companies owned and run by the Guptas.
The embattled Gupta family has a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media.
The three brothers, Atul, Rajesh and Ajay, moved to the country in 1993 from India, just as white minority rule was ending.
They are known friends of Zuma — and his son, daughter and one of the President’s wives worked for the family’s firms.
The raid is a sign that Cyril Ramaphosa, the new leader of the ANC, will move swiftly against those associated with the corruption allegations and mismanagement that have characterised Zuma’s tenure.