3 August 2017

South Africa: I Am Proudly South African - Atul Gupta

Photo: Atul Gupta
Atul Gupta (file photo).

Atul Gupta has told a British radio station his family does not know why people keep linking his family to state capture in South Africa and that if President Jacob Zuma is voted out, this will be irrelevant as he wants to stay in the country forever as he is proudly South African and respects his fellow citizens.

An interview with him was aired on Thursday as part of a BBC Radio 4 investigative series on the Guptas and the work British PR firm Bell Pottinger did for the controversial family.

In the interview, Gupta denied several things, including getting kickbacks from railway deals and getting extra money from government out of a coal mine.

Asked about his family's close relationship to Zuma and contracts they had with government, Gupta responded, "Show me one contract".

It was put to Gupta that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had said that resources rightfully belonging to the people of South Africa had been taken by his family.

A wedding, presumably that of the Guptas' niece Vega in Sun City in 2013 and in which government funds were reportedly used, was referred to.

Gupta dismissed what Ramaphosa said.

"He's been misinformed about this, this is not true. I'm happy to cooperate."

Gupta went on to say he would willingly cooperate with any probe.

Asked about what would happen if Zuma lost a vote of no confidence, which he referred to as "a political matter that's got nothing to do with us," he said this would not change his view of the country.

"I want to stay in South Africa forever. I love this country... I'm proudly South African and I respect all my fellow South Africans. I'm a live example of financial liberation and I'm playing my part."

'I never met this man'

Gupta said he was doing a "very, very, very, very ethical job".

He was asked why his family had gone to court to try and prevent former public protector Thuli Madonsela's state capture report from being released.

He replied, "If you look at the state capture... This report is totally inconclusive. There's no single finding in there.

"The real state capture they're not looking into."

He said there was nothing to back up that his family was involved in state capture.

"No one was ever able to bring proof for that. We don't know what they talking."

When it was put to Gupta that former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas insisted that his brother, Ajay Gupta, had offered Jonas the position of finance minister and R600m, Gupta denied this.

He said his brother had told him, "In my whole life I never met this man".

Gupta said it was not clear why his family was picked on.

"We don't know why our name is being dragged in all these things without any reason why we would be doing that... They running their own agenda. So what as a normal business family are we to do with this?"

It was put to Gupta that when his family took Optimum Coal Mine, the price government paid for coal rose from R150 per ton to R571 per ton.

He said the R150 per ton was being honoured.

"Our price is transparent."

'They don't want competition'

Gupta denied there was a change in coal price since taking the mine over.

Asked how the mine was kept running, he said "they should appreciate" as his family was running a successful business.

The Gupta family also reportedly received more than R5bn in alleged kickbacks from China South Rail.

Asked in the BBC4 interview how much his family knew about railways, he replied, "Not at all".

Gupta went on to deny that his family received anything from China South Rail.

"Ask them," he said.

Gupta said if one dreamed something and then asked him about that dream, he would not know how to answer.

The same therefore applied to the railway allegations.

Asked why his family had not taken legal action against those spreading information which Gupta said was false, he said one needed to understand the country.

"When you stay a little more in SA you'll understand... How South African legal system works."

Gupta said there were a few families controlling South Africa and monopoly capital was behind media ownership.

"They don't want new competition to come into the country."

Source: News24

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