A South African opposition party has demanded that the police extend their Wednesday raid on the influential Gupta family to include government ministers linked to a corruption scandal.
“The investigations and action simply cannot end [with the Guptas] and must continue to all those implicated, including key ministers,” Zakhele Mbehle from the Democratic Alliance said in a statement.
Mbehle demanded investigations of four ministers as well as Ace Magushule, the secretary general of the ruling African National Congress.
The request comes after specialised crime investigation unit on Wednesday morning arrested three people from the Johannesburg home of the Gupta family.
The Gupta family is linked to corruption scandals that have engulfed President Jacob Zuma.
Shortly after dawn, a dozen officers from the elite Hawks police unit sealed off a street leading to the Gupta mansion in Johannesburg’s upscale Saxonwold suburb.
Minutes later, an unmarked police van left the compound as residents applauded police officers and hurled abuse at security guards for the Guptas, who have been accused by South Africa’s top anti-corruption watchdog of influence-peddling and swaying the appointment of cabinet ministers.
On Tuesday, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ordered Zuma to step down as president of the country, giving him no firm deadline but saying the party was sure he would comply and “respond” on Wednesday.
Zuma and the Guptas , a family of wealthy Indian-born businessmen, deny any wrongdoing.
A lawyer for the Gupta family said he could not comment on the raid because he had yet to see the search warrant.
Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said the raid was part of a probe into influence-peddling allegations.
The allegations are also the subject of a judicial inquiry on wider corruption involving the Guptas, dubbed “state capture” in local media.
Signs of law enforcement mobilizing against the Guptas, and by association Zuma, caused the rand to strengthen 0.5 per cent against the dollar.
The currency has tended to gain ground on any sign of Zuma’s political departure approaching.
Zuma’s silence has fueled speculation of an increasingly desperate power struggle behind the scenes with deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, whose election to the head of ANC in December marked the beginning of the end of Zuma’s tenure.
Besides his controversial relationship with the Guptas, who were born in India but moved to South Africa in the early 1990s, Zuma has 783 counts of corruption outstanding against him relating to a 2.5 billion dollars state arms deal in the late 1990s.
Besides the pressure from the ANC, Zuma is facing a no-confidence motion in parliament brought by the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters.
That motion is set for Feb. 22.
The ANC could throw its weight behind such a vote if Zuma, who has survived several no-confidence motions in the past, refused to heed its orders to resign.
The entire Cabinet would have to step down if such a vote went through.
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Author: Tokunbo David