South African police raid business family linked to Zuma
The swoop on the Gupta family came as the ANC awaited a response from the president to its order that he step down.
South African police have raided the home of a business family linked to President Jacob Zuma as the nation awaited word from the embattled leader on whether he will obey an order from the ruling party to quit.
Agents from the Hawks, an elite police investigative unit, entered the compound of the Gupta family in an affluent neighbourhood of Johannesburg. Three people were arrested in operations at various addresses, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The family is suspected of using its connections to the president to influence Cabinet appointments and win state contracts, and has been a flashpoint for national anger over corruption in state enterprises during Mr Zuma’s tenure. Both the Guptas and Mr Zuma say they have done nothing wrong.
A judicial commission is preparing to investigate the alleged corruption associated with the India-born Gupta brothers, who moved to South Africa around the time of the transition from white minority rule to democracy in the 1990s. One of Mr Zuma’s sons, Duduzane, had a business relationship with the Guptas.
Meanwhile, there was no immediate response from Mr Zuma to an announcement on Tuesday by the ruling African National Congress party that the president must leave office.
The ANC, which has lost popularity because of the scandals linked to Mr Zuma, is trying to resolve a leadership crisis that has disrupted one of Africa’s biggest economies.
The ruling party has said it expected a response from Mr Zuma on Wednesday.
The president’s office said it had not issued any announcement on a media briefing by Mr Zuma on Wednesday, as reported by some local media. It said to “await official notification”.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to replace Mr Zuma, who could face a motion of no confidence in parliament if he defies his party’s order to step down.
Mr Zuma’s second five-year term ends with elections in 2019, but the ANC wants to remove him so that it has more time to recover the confidence of disaffected voters.
A motion of no confidence sponsored by an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has been scheduled for February 22 in parliament. Opposition parties want the vote brought forward to this week.
As the Gupta-linked investigation proceeds, Mr Zuma could face corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.
South Africa’s chief prosecutor is expected to make a decision on whether to prosecute Mr Zuma on the old charges, which were reinstated last year after being thrown out in 2009.
In another scandal, South Africa’s top court ruled in 2016 that Mr Zuma violated the constitution following an investigation of multimillion-dollar upgrades to his private home using state funds. The president paid back some of the money.