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‘Guptas not funding AD’

by Lesotho Times
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’Marafaele Mohloboli

ALLIANCE of Democrats (AD) leader, Monyane Moleleki has refuted allegations that his party was being funded by the controversial Gupta family which has over the years, made headlines over its dealings with South African President Jacob Zuma.

Speculation had been rife that the AD could be getting foreign funding after a picture of a man of south Asian descent wearing an AD T-shirt went viral on social media in the days that followed the party’s formation after Mr Moleleki dumped the Democratic Congress (DC) last month.

Many suggested the man was a member of the Gupta family, a claim that has been denied by Mr Moleleki.

“I saw the picture and my sister in-law even jokingly asked if we had the Guptas in our party without knowing the whole issue would come to this,” Mr Moleleki said this week, adding, “But seriously I don’t know the man in the picture”.

“Of course we have financiers and they are not at all of the Asian or Indian origin. How could we sustain a political party without financial backing, surely we need financial support,” he said.

AD Secretary General, Mokhele Moletsane concurred with Mr Moleleki, adding, “The man in the picture could just be a businessman in Lesotho without any connections to the Guptas.

“He may not even be aware that his picture was posted on Facebook. We have no relationship whatsoever with the Guptas.”

Contacted for comment the Gupta family said although they were aware of the picture and the allegations surrounding it, they did not know the man “and he is definitely not one of us”.

“We are not politicians and are not affiliated to any political party anywhere in the world. We are not in any way aligned to the AD.”

The Gupta family is said to have asked one of their local friends, one Mr Mpopo Tšoele to investigate the allegations with a view to pressing charges if it turned out the man was claiming to be a member of the family as that would be tarnishing their reputation.

AD youth league Secretary General, Letuka Chafotsa said it should not come as a surprise if more people who are not Basotho expressed support for the party as they had “friends and followers everywhere” who believe in the AD.

The Guptas are a wealthy family of three brothers from Uttar in India who invested immensely in mining, media and engineering in South Africa to build themselves an empire. They have however, been linked to some shady dealings with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and President Zuma.

The allegations have never been proven in a court of law.

In 2014, one of the brothers, Atul Gupta was appointed as a special advisor to former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane along with his nephew, Essa Omar Aziz. The duo were given diplomatic passports which were later cancelled by the current regime of Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Dr Thabane said he had been introduced to the Guptas by President Zuma and he needed their services to help market Lesotho in Asia and scout for investment.

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