South Africa’s ruling ANC party has called for an investigation into potentially explosive graft allegations against President Jacob Zuma and government officials. Two media outlets say they have obtained tens of thousands of emails and documents showing undue influence by the wealthy Gupta family.
President Jacob Zuma finds himself embroiled in yet another corruption scandal.
On Thursday, two South African media outlets, the Daily Maverick and Amabhungane, published reports saying they have unearthed over 100,000 emails and documents purporting to show how the rich Gupta family unduly influenced the president and the South African government.
The media reports appear to be testing Zuma’s support within his own party, less than a week after the president survived a party vote to replace him as ANC leader.
On Friday, the ANC called the allegations in the media reports “very worrying.” The party called for creation of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to determine whether the accusations are true.
Zuma has not responded to the allegations directly, But ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told ENCA TV Friday that there is too much at stake to ignore the reports.
“If they are left unattended, they have a possibility to damage our people’s confidence in a democratic elected government," said Kodwa. "And therefore it is despicable that such allegations can be left unattended on the basis that they are not authentic. Our government must establish its authenticity to get to the bottom of this because at stake is the credibility and integrity of a democratic state.”
Emails released by the two media outlets appear to show the Gupta family reviewing a potential ministerial appointment and influencing the development of government policy.
One email appears to show links between the Gupta family and an alleged kickback deal worth over $400 million with a Chinese manufacturer of locomotives.
Constitutional law expert Pierre De Vos said the allegations are serious, and the president should act promptly.
“Appoint somebody that is credible, has the necessary powers, with the broad terms of reference, because this seems to be a huge thing based on the available evidence,” he advised.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised about the Gupta family's influence.
A report last year by former public protector Thuli Madonsela ordered a commission of inquiry to look into allegations that Zuma and his ministers have allowed the Gupta family to control them
President Zuma has yet to establish that commission.