Gupta gate - Opinion

The ANC’s 'foreign agents’ will cost them

Deputy President Ramaphosa

The deviousness with which the Guptas, through the Bell Pottinger PR company, used surrogate ANC organizations to cover its corrupt actions will come at a cost for the ANC.

The ANC came out guns blazing in condemning British PR firm Bell Pottinger (BP) and went on to reject the apology of its CEO after the leaked Gupta emails revealed the sly role it played in the state capture sage, which has brought the ANC much discomfort.        

The Guptas used their ill-begotten influence over a compromised president, some of his closest associates, and some family members, to orchestrate a state capture operation unparalleled in modern history.     

The Guptas, and all associated with them, has become the monkey on the ANC’s back. Hence the fierce denunciation of BP, with ANC national Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa describing them as "vultures” and rejecting the firm’s ”so-called apology an non-apology.”  

Rings hollow

To date not a word has been forthcoming, nor explanation given, regarding BP’s assistance and support to the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and its leader, Collen Maine.

Leaked e-mails from the Gupta camp show how BP coached Maine to face the media, prepared speeches and media statements for him aimed at discrediting the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma's critics.

Allegedly similar assistance was also given to the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).

As sure as night follows day, the ANC will claim that the ANCYL and the MKMVA are autonomous organizations, for which it cannot be held accountable.

Denying responsibility is, however, an excuse that is wearing thin and the voters might still have the final say on it.

The ANCYL has been remarkably silent on the allegations of BP’s assistance to it – probably realizing how overwhelming the evidence available in the public domain is.

In contrast, the vociferous denial by MKMVA president and deputy defense minister, Kebby Maphatsoe, had commentators observing that “the man doth protest too much.”          

He claimed the allegations were a malicious attempt to undermine the MKMVA, denied any contact with BP and lamented, "We do not need to be told anything about our own experiences by a foreign PR company. Allegations of this nature are deeply insulting; they are patronizing and downright racist."

The crux of the matter, however, is that Maphatsoe also said: "Our business relationships with companies associated with the Gupta family is known, and above board.”

It is a challenge to make sense of this logic. How is it possible to have “above board” business relations with companies that are associated with a corrupt business empire?

If the MKMVA, as Maphatsoe moralizes,” do not need PR mercenaries who serve whoever the highest paymaster is,” it remains unclear how he and his organization can justify their relationship with business people that have no qualms to contract and pay “PR mercenaries” at exorbitantly high fees?   

Deputy-president speaks out

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech at the just completed South African Communist Party (SACP) national congress, attracted much attention.

He accused BP of sowing racial divisions in the country by orchestrating a campaign blaming "white monopoly capital" for the country’s problems.

He said ”It is a matter of great concern that a public relations company from outside our country was able to so effectively poison the political discourse in our country [and] in our movement to drive their own personal narrow interest.”

Much of the reaction to this speech underscored the view that it took some time for Ramaphosa to find his moral compass.

However, just sounding the alarm that “the house (SA) is burning” not good enough.” For many the deputy president’s credibility depends on the action he would be taking.

 He promised not to stand by idly while South Africa disintegrates. So, he will be tested in the manner he reacts to the ANCYL and MKMVA regarding their association with BP.

The sincerity of the ANC government and its second-in-command, Ramaphosa, in this regard, will only be proven by their reaction to the call by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan for a "firm decision" by the state not to do business with the Gupta family, its allies and replaces all tainted leadership at state-owned entities.    


Both Ramaphosa, and the president of the MK veterans, are correct in their assessment that BP was destabilizing South Africa by stoking racial fires with their “white monopoly capital” slogan.

However, ironically, both also exposed the folly of the claim put forward by the ANC and the government, particularly the president and the minister of state security, that foreign forces are at work to effect regime change through destabilizing tactics.

After repeatedly accusing opposition parties, NGO’s and civil society organizations of collaborating with foreign agents to effect regime change, it now appears that one of these ‘foreign agents’ was none other than a British PR company, contracted by a corrupt family business enterprise, assisting ANC surrogate organizations with destabilizing tactics and slogans

The damage done by BP on behalf of the Guptas will cast lingering dark shadows over the ANC. It has a challenge on its hands to convince many South Africans of its credibility.               


Also read: Multi-layered Corruption has SA close to its knees

                  Collapse of the Zupta Empire

by Garth Cilliers

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