The Guptas arrived in South Africa from India. They came to South Africa because the country presented some serious opportunities – business opportunities, to be precise. Therefore, their close relationship with the president, Jacob Zuma, and his family is located within this money generation adventure.
In this commercial adventure, Pres. Zuma becomes a source of investment. His commercial value is influence and the control of state apparatus and resources. Given that he will not always be the State President, the Guptas sought to build commercial empires and secure commercial projects with state institutions while Pres. Zuma is still in office.
This could be the reason even Zuma’s former wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma earned the Award of the South African of the Year 2015 in a competition conceptualised and sponsored by the Gupta family. Rather than an award, this was possibly an investment in Dlamini-Zuma, given the possibility of her becoming the next president.
Here are four things that halted the ”Guptafication” of South Africa :
05. overestimating Zuma’s influence in his second and last term.
The more Pres. Zuma second term wears old, the lesser his influence gets both within the ANC and in the state. Therefore, it is decreasingly becoming an act of heroism for many within the ANC to disagree, publicly so, with Zuma. This in return is affecting the Guptas for the Pres. can no longer protect them, say openly.
04. Misjudging the basic fact that Zuma does not control the National Treasury, nor the Reserve Bank.
Pres. Zuma may appoint the Minister of Finance, and the Reserve Bank governor, but he does not do so on his own terms. Des van Rooyen’s four-day tenure is rather indicative in this regard. This was one mistake the Guptas made that is still telling on them. The markets were going to fight any prospect of ”Guptafication” of the National Treasury. They did, and they won.
03. The Guptas misconceived the balance of forces within the ANC.
The rich Indian family failed to recognise that Pres. Zuma was increasingly vulnerable to be challenged within the ANC. Therefore, any brazen decision with a Gupta trademark was bound to be challenged.
02. Starting to play in traditionally white industrial terrains.
When the Guptas began to replace traditionally white institutions in the mining and energy sectors the family was literally inviting war. Gwede Mantashe is partly right – the ANC has not been captured by the Guptas.
But he is wrong that the Guptas only reeled in some ANC individuals. Once the Guptas captured the president and his family, the state was captured. Not that the president owns the state, but being the executive head of the state allows him substantive influence and control over the affairs of the state.
Moreover, the Guptas did not really need to capture the ANC. The ANC has no control over the state over which it is the governing party. Therefore, it makes sense for the Guptas to simply target state control.
But then, there is a link between ANC factional dominance with state control.
Victorious factions in the ANC inherently dominate access and control of state resources. This is where the Guptas find themselves in the firing line. They are currently aligned to the ANC faction that manages the state apparatus. As the various factions seek to be the regime in the next administration, the Guptas are inherently the target. Even the South African Communist Party (SACP) has suddenly rediscovered its purpose – it is targeting the Guptas, and is calling for a judicial inquiry on its influence of state affairs.
01. Throwing their weight around to irritating proportions.
At times, those who get too close to power, get too comfortable to believe that, they too, are in power. As evidenced by the Guptas, they begin to throw their weight around to irritating proportions. They become reckless, and selfishly believe themselves to be untouchable. They thought they are above the law and think they can do whatever the want.
Until the ANC sets the benchmark and an ethical code for its leadership, Guptafication will merely be replaced by another fication, depending on the governing faction.