South Africa's Zuma under pressure as Eskom ex-boss alleges Gupta influence

Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:08pm GMT

By Mfuneko Toyana and Joe Brock

PRETORIA (Reuters) - The crisis engulfing South Africa's ruling ANC intensified on Friday as the ex-boss of South Africa's state power firm became the latest figure to accuse a business family with ties to President Jacob Zuma of wielding undue influence.

The saga has added to investor concerns about governance and stability in Africa's most industrialised economy but the African National Congress said there were no plans to address it at a three-day meeting of the party's leadership.

"There is no item on that matter. If it comes, it comes and will be part of the discussions," African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told reporters.

Zola Tsotsi, who resigned a year ago as chairman of Eskom, told the Mail & Guardian newspaper his exit had been orchestrated by the Guptas, who were accused this week of offering cabinet posts to two ANC politicians. [nL5N16P0XW]

"Two months after the appointment, they called me and said they will have me fired because I am not playing the game. I was forced to resign shortly after that," Tsotsi told the weekly.

The row exploded on Wednesday when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said the Gupta family had offered him former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's job shortly before Nene was dismissed in December. Zuma rejected the claims in parliament on Thursday, saying that as president only he appointed ministers.

The Guptas, a family of Indian-born businessmen who moved to South Africa in the early 1990s, have denied trying to influence political appointments, saying they are the victims of a plot.

"We play no role in the hiring and firing of anyone outside of our own business ... These allegations are nothing more than political gossip and innuendo," said Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, part of the Gupta business empire.   Continued...

South Africa's President and ANC party president Jacob Zuma reacts as he attends the party's National Executive Committee (NEC) three-day meeting in Pretoria, March 18, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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