Johannesburg – ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe dismissed criticism of the Gupta family’s political influence as “racial prejudice” on Tuesday.
“Why is it an issue when an Indian company partners with other beneficiaries of BEE?… That is where the racial prejudice is,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg, adding that this was his personal view.
He was briefing the media on the ANC national working committee meeting on Monday, saying reports on the Gupta family influencing President Jacob Zuma did not come up for discussion.
Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, and businessman Rajesh Gupta are reportedly directors and shareholders in a deal with the China Railway Construction Corporation, which could see them benefit hugely from the government’s R550bn rail infrastructure programme.
Mantashe said criticism of the Gupta brothers’ business empire and their partnerships with black business people were based on racism.
“All of a sudden, because it is a Gupta, it’s a big deal, because it’s an Indian company. The owners do not look white enough to partner with BEE officials.” The same could be said about partnerships with Chinese companies, added Mantashe.
“Because Indians and Chinese are not white enough… that’s why I talk about racial prejudice.”