Churches in South Africa now wade into fight over 'State capture' by family from India

(Photo: LWF/ Rodrick Beiler)Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dances with Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of South Africa to celebrate some 1.8 million signatures on an interfaith petition for climate justice during the COP21 climate summit in Paris, France.

A powerful family from India closely connected to the ruling African National Congress and particularly to President Jacob Zumba has drawn the ire of many South Africans accused of having an undue influence in affairs of State.

It has been accused of "State capture" – the new buzzword in South Africa - that its proponents says refers to a type of general political corruption in which private interests significantly influence decision-making.

It is a nationally encompassing controversy that has seen former top officials and aides turn on Zuma as well as the main opposition Democratic Alliance and the smaller Economic Freedom Fighters.

The former General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi has described the Gupta family as a "shadow government" and even comments made by the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have been viewed as critical.

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Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan refused to speak at a breakfast briefing hosted by the Gupta-owned New Age newspaper, a strong supporter of Zuma. The breakfast was regularly supported by government ministers.

It is such a big issue that church leaders have now entered the fray.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, a successor of renowned anti-apartheid critic Desmond Tutu, on March 17 called on people at all levels of government "to talk and tell the truth" in response to new revelations about the influence of "a non-governmental family in matters of State."

In an audio message recorded at Bishopscourt in Cape Town, he also urged the ANC NEC's forthcoming meeting to "please be bold, be courageous, tell the truth, because the truth will set you free."

http://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2016/03/17/Listen-as-Makgoba-urges-ANC-to-tell-the-truth-about-the-Guptas-iLIVE

The Gupta family migrated from the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to South Africa in 1993. That was shortly before the country's first democratic elections for all races, to establish Sahara Computers and the start of its economic empire in South Africa.

The former General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions Zwelinzima Vavi has described the Gupta family as a "shadow government" and even comments made by the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa have been viewed as critical.

In his message Makgoba, who was also prominent in the Church's fight against apartheid, urged the ANC's National Executive Committee upcoming meeting to "please be bold, be courageous, tell the truth, because the truth will set you free."

The Dominican Order of Southern Africa has written Public Protector Thuli Madonsela' and her office has said it will launch a preliminary probe into whether she had the jurisdiction and the grounds to conduct a full investigation into the family's activities.

The Catholic religious organization group pleaded with Madonsela to investigate claims against the controversial Gupta family says it did so in the interest of poor and marginalized South Africans.

Father Brian Mhlanga' the order's communications head' said the request was made "in the light of transparency and accountability."

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