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How did the Guptas get painted black?

A look at who runs the family’s affairs reveals a lot of pale males.
Ajay Gupta and Atul Gupta. Picture: Gallo Images

In the ensuing propaganda war that has spilled out between President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas, and those that criticise him, is the narrative that the people opposing the “Zuptas” are racist white monopoly capitalists, or their stooges.

But just how did the Guptas paint themselves black? They are a family that began to establish themselves in this country as far back as 1993, barely a year before the democratic dispensation began, when a young Atul was sent by his father, Shiv Kumar, to undertake a new beginning, according to the account of Pieter-Louis Myburgh in his book The Republic of Gupta: A Story of State Capture. They are not black. Not African black, not African-American black, not British black. They are Indian, and have only become naturalised South Africans as recently as 2015. So they have suffered exactly zero of the injustices real black South Africans experienced and can’t claim to be historically disadvantaged.

This made the origin and intents of the new Mining Charter suspicious to the point of being comical when it was revealed that the definition of a black person (for the purposes of defining BEE) in the charter included: “Black person – a generic term which means Africans, Coloureds and Indians – who became citizens of the Republic of South Africa (ii) on or after April 27 1994 and who would have been entitled to acquire citizenship by naturalisation prior to that date.”

Now Mr Zwane, are you sure the last part wasn’t drafted in Saxonwold?

If the Guptas were so for the economic emancipation of blacks, they sure as heck don’t seem to show it in the way they run their businesses.

Do you see any pictured here?

Source: Oakbay Investments

We had the great pleasure of meeting the Oakbay Investments executive team when they decided to present certain features of the group’s results at the JSE last year.

As you can see, besides being a family affair and employing some Indians, there are a quite a few white Afrikaans males involved in the upper management of their businesses.

Looking a little bit closer and we find the following:

Oakbay Investments:

Holding company: Current acting CEO Ronica Ragavan (Indian female), prior to that Nazeem Howa (Indian male).

Oakbay Resources and Energy – the JSE-listed public company (per website):

Board: Terence Rensen (chairman, white male); Jacques Roux (CEO, white male); Trevor Scott (financial director and CFO, white male); Dudu Nyamane (non-executive director, black female); Mark Pamensky (independent non-executive director, white male); Nazeem Howa (non-executive director, Indian male).

Management: Paul Richardson (white male), Leon du Preez (white male), Izak Marais (white male), Joseph Mtshali (black male), Henning Viljoen (white male).

Professional services:

PR: As we are now all aware, Bell Pottinger was hired to manage the Guptas, Oakbay and the ANC’s professional image, paid for by the Guptas. The firm is British, so the chances were going to be slim that a black South African would be involved. Those directly involved on the “Oakbay” account included: Nick Lambert (white British male), Victoria Geoghegan (white British female), plus a further two white British males.

Family lawyer: Gert van der Merwe, from Van der Merwe Attorneys Inc. (We couldn’t tell how many black people work here because the firm does not seem to have a webpage.)

I also had the opportunity to interact with one of the Guptas up close, on my beat as a mining reporter. This included hosting Varun Gupta, Atul Gupta’s nephew, when he came to be interviewed at Moneyweb’s offices in June 2015 in his capacity as chief operating officer of Oakbay Resources and Energy (the listed vehicle), and again when we toured the Shiva Uranium and gold mine a few months later. I never saw any blacks in Varun’s personal security detail, or the drivers that ferried us around the mine, or even in the contingent of “hostess” ladies that looked after us at the mine? No, they were all white. 

I also once asked Nazeem Howa if he had any equity in the Oakbay businesses, and he told me the family owns the companies outright with no staff afforded a stake in them.

So it’s a little bit hard to take, sitting where I am, to see how the Guptas are advancing the interests of black South Africans. They don’t hire them in senior executive roles, they don’t empower them if they are staff, and in most cases, they don’t even want them in their personal proximity – as we learnt from the Gupta wedding at Sun City. The only ones that seem to be prominent in their universe – outside of Duduzane Zuma – are the ones in government, or the ones doing their bidding.

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How very interesting!
Perhaps a case of the AWB in metamorphosis – what they couldn’t get right with the gun they’re achieving through the corporate back door….

This has to be the best and funniest article on Moneyweb, EVER!

That definition of “black” in “Mining Charter Episode III – Black to the Future” is absolutely priceless.

Sjoe, must say that some of those boys in the picture look as if they have spent waaay too many years behind a keyboard or at those sponsored company dinners. Obviously the Discovery Vitality salespeople never made it through the Oakbay and Sahara front doors.

Possible explanations in response to Sjoe …

1. Broad shoulders and mass are necessary to prevent them from slipping out of pockets.
2. Broad shoulders and mass are necessary to prevent them from slipping too deep into orifices.
3. They’re front line players for the team.

Agree, this has to be one of Moneyweb’s best articles that i have read recently.

ANC supporters should be seriously embarrassed by now how the party has failed them and the country. The rest of us are just angry and reeling from the repercussions of corruption, mismanagement, inability to lead and BellPottinger propaganda.

Appears embarrassment is a western concept with that lot. A colonial thing?

There are so many non-SA born citizens of colour claiming BEE that the whole BEE system can be thrown away as being useless.

SA cannot afford to empower the whole of India and every African country north of the limpopo.

Brilliant!
Did you send a copy to Zwane?

Sham and controversy at every turn these days, likely be accelerated by Zuma’s days being numbered in office.

I do find it interesting that Bell Potinger, Mckinsey and KPMG have rightly been absolutely roasted in the private sector for having anything to do with these thieves. Talk of licenses and memberships being revoked is 100% correct.

Now if only the NPA and Hawks were not so obviously in the pocket of Zuma then we might have a similar response by the public sector.

One thing about the ANC is that you can never accuse them of been an ethical and honest political party. All their posturing for genuine BEE can be swept under the carpet if self enrichment without any effort can be achieved.
I always remember Zuma’s words all those years ago, ” there no more Mandelas “. Probably the only true thing he ever said.

Two points: I don’t like the Guptas and never will. On the other hand one can only admire their business cleverness ( even if it is intertwined with corruption and misleading people with low intellect )…for instance their vision for seeing the future need of uranium use in nuclear power plants and establishment of these mines. Brilliant. Why didn’t the Anglos, Impalas etc. thougth of this?

You don’t think that Gupta’s and Zuma’s orchestrated the whole Nuclear saga? Why else was there such a rush to get reactors built? Why else did Zuma visit Putin?

I agree with your first two points, although I would classify it as sly rather than clever. Don’t agree with the question concerning Anglo’s, Impala etc.. Many countries have been looking for nuclear alternatives, so for Anglo’s etc, pursuing Uranium mining may have been a white elephant. If you can get guarantees from Eskom and Number 1 that they will buy your Uranium and you can name your price, that is an entirely different “business” proposition altogether.

a bit of the point, I wonder what else uranium are also used for and if there are strict control over these uranium products?

Other companies wont do it because they need to use their own capital. The Gupta’s will not have to fork out any of their own money, but will get Eskom, PIC, and related state entities to supply the funds.

Could it really be that the BSLF, ANCYL, ANCWL, PPF etc don’t have a single person good enough to head up Gupta companies?

(ii) on or after April 27 1994 and who would have been entitled to acquire citizenship by naturalisation prior to that date.” By design they are taking advantage of a status they are not entitled to, it is unethical and immoral, but no one can accuse the Guptas of being anything else. It is not even clear that the Guptas would have been entitled to acquire citizenship by naturalization under Apartheid. So, in both accounts, the Guptas are parasitic and opportunistic. Their ill gotten citizenship is a double edged sword since they can be charged as locals and sentenced to prison term. But don’t hold your breath, they will be released for ‘terminal illness’ like Shabir Shaik’.

What is clear from the leaked emails is that these guptas have zero faith in black people for things that matter. And it seems to escape our great leader that they have merely appropriated his blackness for their personal enrichment. I thought black people were over being “colonised” but it seems I’m wrong

End of comments.

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