Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will investigate the merits of the leaked #GuptaEmails that traces a complex web of alleged collusion between the state and the politically connected Gupta family.
She said the preliminary investigation will look into the “improper or unlawful enrichment or receipt of any improper advantage, or promise of such enrichment or advantage by certain officials” at state-owned enterprises Eskom, Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and Transnet.
The investigation will among others, probe allegations that former PRASA board chairman Sfiso Buthelezi, now the deputy minister of finance, failed to disclose a conflict of interest regarding Makana, a company he had interests in, which did advisory work for Prasa.
At Transnet, Mkhwebane said the contentious locomotive procurement deal, which saw billions in kickbacks allegedly paid to Gupta-linked companies and associates, would be probed, and the role of former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba in the appointment of Brian Molefe and Iqbal Sharma to the Transnet board, and as well as current Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s alleged failure to conduct oversight at Transnet.
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The Gupta family, who enjoy close ties to Zuma and his son Duduzane, were at the centre of indications of state capture detailed in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report released last year.
The president is challenging Madonsela’s report in court.
The emails released in recent weeks have suggested that bosses at state-owned enterprises seemingly enabled the Guptas by granting them lucrative contracts, that Zuma a R500 million home in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that Zuma and Duduzane have applied for UAE citizenship.
Zuma refuted the allegations, and told Cabinet that he does not own a home in Dubai.