The Free State African National Congress (ANC) says it has no problems with the business relationship between the sons of provincial premier Ace Magashule and the Gupta family on Monday.
On Monday, new Gupta email revelations published by the Daily Maverick and AmaBhungane showed how Tshepiso Magashule was taken on an overseas holiday by the Gupta family and then had certain documents printed on a Free State government letterhead in return.
Magashule’s other son, Thato, also received a holiday from the family.
The Free State ANC’s Thabo Meeko says they are perfectly happy with the relationship between Mageshula’s sons and the Gupta family.
“They are citizens of South Africa in our understanding. They have got a right to pursue business interests and not precluded by the law and if it’s within that understanding, then the ANC will not have a problem.”
And he also doesn’t see any problems with the Vrede Dairy project that appears to have allowed the Guptas to receive R84 million.
“That project is doing very well, the provincial government is babysitting that project and we’re generally happy.”
That money was then immediately taken out of the country.
MAGASHULE’S SONS GROOMED TO BE GUPTA INTERMEDIARIES
By AmaBhungane and Scorpio, Daily Maverick’s new investigative unit.
Magashule’s staff officially invited a senior Indian politician to South Africa on a Gupta associate’s request. His son Tshepiso “Gift” Magashule then forwarded the official correspondence to Tony Gupta.
The revelations are contained in the #GuptaLeaks, a trove of data leaked from the heart of the Guptas’ business network.
The leaks offer details on what appears to be the Guptas’ modus operandi for locking-in political loyalties.
In much the same way that Duduzane Zuma was apparently groomed, the #GuptaLeaks suggest that Magashule’s sons were similarly primed to become Gupta intermediaries.
At an Indian hotel in 2012, an employee briefing his colleagues by e-mail on the imminent arrival of Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and a Free State entourage, described the Gupta brothers as being “known for their billionaire lifestyles and open-door access to the highest levels of government, including the President Jacob Zuma”.
Accompanying the group to India was future Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. At the time, he was Free State MEC for Agriculture.
Notes and e-mails indicate that Magashule’s son Tshepiso started working for the Guptas as a consultant in November 2010, the year after Duduzane was brought into the Gupta fold.
Tshepiso appears not to have made it to the same level as the young Zuma. The #GuptaLeaks show how Duduzane, a director in several Gupta companies, was raking in R300,000 a month by March 2015, while Tshepiso, a director in only one Gupta company, was getting R90,000 a month.
In earlier days, the two were treated more evenly. The #GuptaLeaks provide details of an extravagant Gupta family holiday in December 2011.
Tshepiso and Duduzane joined the Gupta brothers Ajay, Rajesh, Atul and their families on a three-week holiday to New York City and Venice, Italy.
A lengthy e-mail exchange between an Indian-based company, JV Travels and Ashu Chawla, a senior Gupta employee, detailed the group’s itinerary as well as a list of who was to fly first class and who would go business class. The young Zuma and Magashule both got business class.
Chawla signed off on the flight schedules and airfares: the 11 first class seats cost roughly R700,000 and the eight business class seats around R407,000.
The group flew to New York from Delhi in India on December 3, 2011. They spent about a week in the Big Apple before heading east again to Venice in Italy for a few days before returning to Delhi on December 20. The #GuptaLeaks shows Tshepiso has called in favours for the ruling party.
In May 6, 2014, a day before the national elections, Tony Gupta received an e-mail via Tshepiso with an attachment titled “Air time list”.
The e-mail trail shows Tshepiso received the e-mail from a member of the Free State legislature. The subject was: “As discussed.”
The legislator wrote: “Good morning, Attached please receive a list of FS ANC party agents in need of airtime, they all use MTN. It will be appreciated if air time amounting to R120 per person could be loaded today, 06 May 2014. Hoping for your positive response.”
The attachment contained the names and cellphone numbers of 362 people – apparently all Free State ANC members.
However, for every quid, there appears to be a quo. And when the Guptas needed access to the power of the premier’s office, they used Tshepiso.
In November 2014, Gupta associate Ashok Narayan requested that Tshepiso print a document entitled “a drafted invitation”.
Narayan was a key figure in what amaBhungane previously reported appeared to be a money laundering scheme connected to the Guptas. He did not respond to requests for comment at the time.
Now Narayan told Tshepiso that he needed the document printed “on the official letterhead of the Office of the Premier”. The attached invitation was to Devendra Fadnavis, chief minister of Maharashtra, Mumbai.
“Ask them to fax and e-mail to the numbers provided in the letter once the Premier has signed. Please mail me a copy as well,” Narayan wrote.
Apparently heeding Narayan’s request, Tshepiso once again sent it to his father’s chief of staff, who responded: “Hi T, Please see the attached. I have the Chief Ministers e-mail address and can send it on directly should you wish me to. It may look better coming from an official premier e-mail address. Let me know.”
On the same day, Tshepiso forwarded the response to Tony Gupta.
It was previously reported that Magashule did something similar .