The Guptas have been confirmed to have returned to South Africa after being away for several months over several controversial issues tied to their name.
The controversial family left the country months back after being linked to an alleged state capture which also resulted in some major South African banks and other financial institutions in the country dropping their business association with the family.
But according to the family’s spokesperson Gary Naidoo, the Guptas are not just back full-time, their relationship with the president is still intact.
“Naturally, it doesn’t help with media reports tainting the relationship and throwing out wild accusations,” Naidoo told Fin24 in a telephonic interview on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say it’s strained, but it’s one that’s made a little more difficult now to engage in terms of a friendship,” he said. “But yes, it’s been a challenging time for the Guptas and they just want the business to go on.”
Naidoo however, condemned speculations by the media that the influential family fled the country due to the heated political controversy tied to their name. He said the family did not flee anywhere but had to go attend a wedding ceremony of a member of their family.
“(The media) made mention of the Gupta family leaving the country,” Naidoo said.
“One of the sons of the Gupta family was getting married and the reason for them being out of the country was for the wedding.”
“They’ve subsequently come back to the country…they’re very much South Africans and they continue to stay South Africans,” he said.
According to Naidoo, the Guptas have taken a lot of strain, with many of the children facing verbal abuse at the schools they attend.
“They have children that are school going and it’s not easy on the children to go through verbal abuse of what’s picked out in the media on the family.” he said.
The family remains friends with President Jacob Zuma, though Naidoo conceded that it has become more difficult for the family to engage with the Zumas’ as friends.
Speaking on the return of the Guptas to south Africa, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini confirmed that union leadership met the Gupta family last week, saying the family had assured them they were not leaving South Africa but had merely attended a family wedding.
“Our mission behind meeting the Guptas last week was about the jobs that were at stake if they [the Guptas] decided to leave the country,” said Dlamini as he reiterated the labor union’s stance against the untoward influence of the state by private capital.
He, however, promised to keep a close watch on the family to ensure there isn’t a repeat of the past occurrences. “If we find that they are doing the same, we will crush them,” said Dlamini.
More to this, Cosatu’s Dlamini accused banks that had cut ties with the Gupta family of double standards, citing an instance of construction companies which had been found guilty of colluding in 2010 projects.
“When these companies were penalized at the insistence of the competition commission the banks continued doing business them and found nothing wrong with that. What we see them [the banks] doing to the Guptas is selective punishment,” he said.
Dlamini warned Cosatu members to be vigilant against enemies, including opposition parties and civil society organizations, which he accused of pursuing a regime change agenda.