Johannesburg: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has conceded for the first time that divisions within the ruling African National Congress prevented appropriate action against the influential Gupta family from India for their alleged involvement in massive state capture.
While appearing before the State Capture Commission on Thursday as the deputy president and president of South Africa, Ramaphosa, while referring to the Gupta family, said key people were strategically placed and that played a role in fully capturing the state.
"They had ensconced themselves quite neatly into the various structures. They had acceptance; they had approval, and they had access; so yes, the red flag having been raised, it was not heeded. We should say that," Ramaphosa said, referring to the relationship between former president Jacob Zuma and the three Gupta brothers accused of siphoning billions of rands from state entities and provincial governments.
Ramaphosa admitted before the Commission that there had been attempts by some party members to caution the African National Congress (ANC) about the relationship.
"Yes, I think a red flag was raised and the level of alertness should have been there. I think that with the Gupta family, we were blind-sighted by the fact that this family were friends to the ultimate leader of our party.
"But there were occasions when for instance Transport Minister Fikile (Mbalula) mentioned it in the National Executive Committee (of the ANC).
Ramaphosa lauded Mbalula for being 'brave' to raise at that level the fact that the Guptas had informed him months before his appointment that this was imminent, long before Zuma actually made the appointment.
Several other former ministers have also testified at the Commission about similar situations.
Ramaphosa also commented on the infamous landing of a planeload of guests from India for the lavish wedding of a family member at a national key point.
"When the plane landed at air force Waterkloof base, the then Secretary-General (Gwede Mantashe) spoke out against this almost immediately and when I had the occasion when the Gupta brothers came to ANC headquarters to discuss this and other matters with us, I was one who specifically raised this and said that this should never have happened as it put our president, who is your friend, in great difficulty," Ramaphosa said.
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