South Africa's ruling party African National Congress (ANC) has denied claims it backed a proposed parliamentary investigation on the alleged influence of a wealthy Indian family in the country's politics. The probe was proposed by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which calls for an investigation on corruption allegations involving three members of the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma, son of President Jacob Zuma.
"The Democratic Alliance chief whip's ridiculous claims in the media that ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has agreed to the DA's opportunistic proposal for parliament to institute an investigation into the alleged state influence by the Gupta family are imaginary and baseless," the ANC said in a statement.
Who are the Guptas?
In 1993, brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh (also known as "Tony") left their home country in India's Uttar Pradesh state and emigrated to South Africa, where they set up the family business Sahara Computers.
The Guptas and then vice-president Jacob Zuma met for the first time at the Sahara Estate in 2003. Zuma has often been accused of having close ties with the Guptas and allowing them to influence the country's political scene.
Some refer to the relationship between the president and the family by the portmanteau "Zupta". The scandal involving the family has been branded "Guptagate".
Read more about the Gupta family.
"When asked by various media houses following his appointment whether the ANC would support a parliamentary debate on the allegations surrounding the Guptas, the ANC chief whip stressed that, as a general principle, parliament as a forum for public debates should never quash multi-party debates. However, each proposed debate should be subjected to the established parliamentary process for consideration and a decision by all parties."
The DA's request to start an investigation came as several officials claimed they were offered ministerial positions by the Guptas or were removed from their offices after refusing to accommodate the requests of the Indian magnates. The Guptas denied the allegations and Zuma said during a parliamentary session on 17 March that no minister was ever appointed by the family.
Some analysts believe the president, who has been urged by the opposition to resign, will soon lose the trust of influential members within ANC due to the prolonged allegations of corruption and growing discontent.
However, the ANC denied Zuma offered to resign following mounting pressure. Stephen Chan, a leading academic specialising in South African affairs at London's Soas university, told IBTimes UK the mounting problems are unlikely to result in the ANC opting for a change of leadership.