11 October 2019

South African business delighted at US sanctions against the Guptas

Media statement
11 October 2019

South African business delighted at US sanctions against the Guptas

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), South Africa’s apex business organisation, welcomes and appreciates the US Treasury announcement of sanctions against the Gupta family – which it correctly describes as “a significant corruption network in South Africa”.

“Slowly but surely, the judicial noose is tightening around the grand masters of state capture,” BUSA President Sipho Pityana said in welcoming the announcement. “The Guptas have been doing their best to evade justice in South Africa. The Zondo Commission is making some inroads in addressing that, but the US Treasury decision is the sort of decisive action we all need. We are delighted at this news.”

“The US sanctions clearly identify that the Gupta family was at the heart of the most corrupt attack on South Africa’s sovereignty since the advent of democracy. And it severely curbs their attempts to continue as if they have done nothing wrong

“We call on other countries to follow suit and ensure there is no place for the Guptas to hide either themselves or their ill-gotten gains.”

Pityana said it was significant that the US Treasury has invoked a legal sanction imposed under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which is aimed at ensuring human rights accountability.

“The Global Magnitsky Act highlights the fact that corruption undermines the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure and functioning societies, has a devastating impact on individuals, weakens democratic institutions, degrades the rule of law and undermines economic markets.

“There can be no better way to describe the activities of the Gupta family and their political and financial cronies,” says Pityana.

“There can be no questioning that the biggest victims of the Guptas’ plundering of South Africa’s public purse are the poor. Because of the Guptas’ activities, as highlighted by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, millions of South Africans have been denied public funding for basic human rights and services such as water, sanitation, electricity, housing, education and health care.

“The Guptas and their political and financial networks have also caused irreparable damage to vital state institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks and bled dry vital state assets such as Eskom and Transnet. It will take years, it not decades, to repair the damage.”

Pityana added: “Civil society has long been calling for curbs on the Guptas’ movements and their financial shenanigans and should feel vindicated for their pressure.

“Although there was more to the Gupta network than the names detailed in the US sanctions – and we trust that more names will be added – the US Treasury has spoken the honest truth about their activities. In so doing, it has reinforced local campaigns against corruption, bolstered the search for justice, and directly curbed the Guptas’ ability to continue with international money-laundering.

“In so doing, they have done South Africa a huge service.