Zee Media Bureau
Johannesburg: Two days after a government probe absolved South African President Jacob Zuma in the Gupta wedding scandal, he has been implicated now by a government report, reports said Thursday.
The furore was triggered when an Indian Gupta family with close ties to President Zuma, flew to South Africa on a chartered plane, an Airbus A330-200, carrying 200 wedding guests and landed at a high security Waterkloof Air Force base.
The scandal, in which the passengers allegedly bypassed customs procedures on their way to a gaudy entertainment complex, has angered many South Africans who see the episode as a case of cronyism linking big business and the highest levels of government in a country where corruption is a growing problem.
According to reports, Zuma’s two children are posted at high positions in the companies owned by the Guptas, namely Sahara Computers and Shiva Uranium.
A government report has accused Protocol chief Bruce Koloane of using deception to get landing permission for an Airbus carrying the wedding guests.
Bruce Koloane, who has been now suspended from the post of Chief of State Protocol, hinted at President’s role when he said that he was only following orders under “pressure from number 1”.
Earlier, the President was absolved by a government probe and the Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe said, "In any event, the president is not involved in authorizing the landing or not landing of aircraft at airports".
The government report also implicates officials from Indian High Commission of deception.
SABC, South Africa`s state broadcaster, quoted Virendra Gupta, India`s high commissioner, as saying permission for the plane to land at the base had been requested because of security concerns for VIPs and "senior political figures from India" on the flight.
The South African government, however, said it did not have a record of notification from the Indian High Commission. Instead, it said, India`s defense attache in South Africa requested clearance from the air force, which consulted the office of state protocol without informing the military chief.
SABC quoted businessman Atul Gupta as saying Gupta investments have brought jobs to South Africa and boosted tourism since the family began operating in the country in the 1990s. Atul Gupta is chairman of the family-owned TNA media group. The family is also involved in technology and other interests.
At the centre of the controversy is the wedding of Vega Gupta, daughter of Achla Gupta, the only sister of the politically connected Gupta brothers - Ajay, Atul and Rajesh - to India-born Akaash Jahajgarhia.
Newspapers across South Africa zeroed in on the scandal, but the New Age newspaper owned by the Guptas carried the news of marriage on its front-page with the headline: "A union of elegance and tradition."
With Agency Inputs