Trade union Solidarity on Wednesday called on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group Denel’s new joint venture (JV) Denel Asia’s link to the Gupta family.
The JV, established in Hong Kong in partnership with South African private-sector company VR Laser, was aimed at providing Denel with a firm foothold in Asia.
However, Solidarity professional sector deputy general-secretary Johan Botha raised concern in a statement on Wednesday over the transaction, pointing to “numerous question marks” over the legitimacy of the transaction.
“Especially given the Gupta family’s strong ties with President Jacob Zuma, as well as the fact that the transaction was concluded at a time when Denel’s CEO and CFO both had been suspended,” he said.
Solidarity pointed to reports of the President’s son Duduzane Zuma and Rajeesh Gupta allegedly owning a 25.1% stake in VR Laser through Craysure Investments. Gupta and Duduzane Zuma were directors of Craysure parent company Westdawn Investments.
Solidarity argued that the Guptas would be among the shareholders of the newly established Denel Asia JV.
The union said in a letter to the Public Protector that its members were concerned about Denel’s reputation and future, which had consequences for their job security.
“[Solidarity] members are also extremely concerned about the impact the alleged transaction will have on the collective bargaining season, which starts in February, and which could seriously prejudice Denel employees,” he said.