Groomed by Guptas: How Free State Premier Ace Magashule, son Gift were caught and captured

EDINBURGH — The family of Ace Magashule, Free State Premier, has been caught and captured in the Zupta net. This is evident in the #GuptaLeaks, a massive data bank of emails shared with independent journalists in what is the biggest information leak in decades. The Gupta family has cast its net far beyond the Zuma family to use patronage to secure a steady flow of state funds into its coffers. In this exposé, the journalists at amaBhungane detail how the Guptas used travel and luxury treats to win over Ace Magashule and sons. Also having fun on at least one extravagant junket was controversial mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane. – Jackie Cameron

Staff Writer

There’s nothing subtle about the relationship between Ace Magashule and son Gift Magashule and the Gupta family. In a quid pro quo relationship, Magashule’s family facilitated access to government letterheads and other political favours in exchange for jobs, cash and trips.

The Gupta family took international holidays with members of the Magashule and Zuma families, too.

Details of how the Gupta family groomed Magashule and sons are contained in the #GuptaLeaks. Correspondence indicates that the Gupta family cultivated the Magashule sons in much the same way that they worked on bringing Duduzane Zuma into the net – only they didn’t think the Magashules were worth as much money as the Zumas.

Free State Premier Ace Magashule

Gift Magashule has allegedy been working for the Guptas for about seven years, while Duduzane Zuma has been on the payroll for a little longer. Magashule was earning a monthly R90 000 while Zuma junior was drawing a monthly salary of R300 000, it seems.

The revelations are contained in the #GuptaLeaks, a trove of data leaked from the heart of the Guptas’ business network.

The leaks offer details on what appears to be the Guptas’ modus operandi for locking-in political loyalties, say the amaBhungane journalists who have been trawling through the data to develop the details of the state capture strategy that has played out in South Africa.

“In much the same way that Duduzane Zuma was apparently groomed, the #GuptaLeaks suggest that Magashule’s sons were similarly primed to become Gupta intermediaries,” says amaBhungane.

“I’m nobody’s puppet”. Some more magic from

Some of the information extracted by amaBhungane from the #GuptaLeaks includes that:

  • Magashule’s staff officially invited a senior Indian politician to South Africa on a Gupta associate’s request. His son Tshepiso “Gift” Magashule then forwarded the official correspondence to Tony Gupta;
  • At an Indian hotel in 2012, an employee briefing his colleagues by e-mail on the imminent arrival of Rajesh “Tony” Gupta and a Free State entourage described the Gupta brothers as being “known for their billionaire lifestyles and open-door access to the highest levels of government, including the president Jacob Zuma”. Accompanying the group to India was future mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who was Free State MEC for agriculture at the time;
  • In December 2011 Tshepiso and Duduzane joined the Gupta brothers Ajay, Rajesh, Atul and their families on a three-week holiday to New York City and Venice, Italy;
  • Ashu Chawla, a senior Gupta employee signed off on the flight schedules and airfares: the 11 first class seats cost roughly R700,000 and the eight business class seats  – including for Gift and Duduzane – around R407,000, outlines amaBhungane;
  • Magashule’s son Tshepiso started working for the Guptas as a consultant in November 2010, the year after Duduzane was brought into the Gupta fold;
  • Tshepiso received support from the Guptas, including a loan of R80,000.
  • Brother Thato Magashule travelled to Dubai in December 2015, where he and Gift stayed at the luxurious Oberoi Hotel for eight days. The hotel sent an AED10,240 (roughly R40,000 at the time) bill for the Magashule brothers’ stay directly to the Guptas’ Sahara Computers.

“Tshepiso (Gift) appears not to have made it to the same level as the young Zuma. The #GuptaLeaks show how Duduzane, a director in several Gupta companies, was raking in R300,000 a month by March 2015, while Tshepiso, a director in only one Gupta company, was getting R90,000 a month.”

Gupta family pays air time for hundreds of ANC members

Ace Magashule called in favours for the ruling party through his son. This included demanding payments for mobile phone air time for hundreds of ANC party members, in a shallow attempt to secure votes in 2014 national elections.

The e-mail trail includes this nugget: “Good morning, Attached please receive a list of FS ANC party agents in need of airtime, they all use MTN. It will be appreciated if air time amounting to R120 per person could be loaded today, 06 May 2014. Hoping for your positive response.”

The attachment contained the names and cellphone numbers of 362 people – apparently all Free State ANC members, says amaBhungane.

Petty over the small change

The #GuptaLeaks reveal a petty side to the Guptas over money. In one email, Gupta man Chawla instructs: “All these guest [sic] entire bills we have to pay so please arrange payments for all except Gift Magashule and Thato Magashule. For them just bed and breakfast.”

Another email chain outlines an instruction to the staff of a plush hotel in India: “Please note this is a VVIP group and Mr. Rajesh Gupta regularly stays at the Presidential Suite of the Taj in New Delhi…All mini bars to be locked for the entire group excepting Mr Rajesh Gupta and Ms Videsha Proothveerajh.”

Zwane did not respond to queries from amaBhungane, while Magashule’s spokesperson said that the premier and the Free State provincial government were leaving the matter to the Hawks – also believed to have been “captured” – to investigate.

Gupta lawyer Gert van der Merwe has told amaBhungane that there are moves afoot to “get hold of” the #GuptaLeaks treasure trove.

Got information or views about Ace Magashule and Gift Magashule? Tell us, below this article. Or send an email to [email protected]

About #GuptaLeaks: Journalists are slowly sifting through the information to build evidence that President Jacob Zuma and friends have embarked on a calculating, wide-ranging and self-serving strategy to unsettle the South African political landscape in order to create access to funds. A daily digest and commentaries on the most important #GuptaLeaks finds are available here on BizNews.

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