Has the time come for a boycott to force Dubai to give us the Guptas? – Chuck Stephens

We all have a WTF moment, even if you don’t use that kind of language, when we see stories about the Guptas holed up in their plush homes in Dubai, the over the top weddings that they host in seven-star hotels and the dragging of feet to flush them out of their Emirates hide-away. But an extradition treaty has now been agreed between the United Arab Emirates and South Africa and the only hold-up is that the treaty has not been ratified by the UAE. This week a South African delegation flew to Dubai to push the emirates to go ahead and ratify the treaty to give South Africa the chance to get the Guptas back to face the music. An article in Gulf News proudly claimed that “Dubai ensures fugitives have no getaway” and it noted that the extradition of suspects wanted in criminal cases to their home countries by Dubai Police rose by 108% in the first quarter of 2018. So, what’s the hold-up? Chuck Stephens from the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership warns that the Guptas could be “greasing the palms of government officials” and says it may be time for a South African boycott of Dubai. – Linda van Tilburg.

Imposters and Snipers

By Chuck Stephens*

Our new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) is visiting Dubai with Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. She is quoted by The Economist as telling allies: “when you shoot at the king, make sure you don’t miss!”

But time is running out. What makes her think that the Guptas cannot subvert the United Arab Emirates too? They now have plenty of stolen money to bribe officials there. Stolen from South Africa.

Dubai is an emirate, a great hide-out for the Guptas. Lamola and Batohi say they will meet their counterparts at a conference being held in Abu Dhabi, another emirate. The United Arab Emirates comprises seven emirates. Dubai is the biggest city in that region, it is the business hub.

Read also: NAILED! US imposes sanctions on Gupta brothers, Essa for SA corruption

Emirs are princes or commanders. Emirates are not noted for being democratic. The conditions are optimal for kick-backs. We all know that the Guptas know how to “grease the palms” of government officials. Thanks to various witnesses at the Zondo Commission into State Capture.

So it is little wonder that the UAE are dragging their feet on ratifying the extradition treaty. If you think that cutting through the red tape is hard in South Africa – in the UAE, when they cut the red tape, they cut is length-wise!

This made me think of a West Asian proverb:

The forest was shrinking

But the trees kept voting for the axe. 

For the axe was clever and convinced the trees

That because his handle was wood, he was one of them.

Proverbs like poetry can be filled with double entendre and multiple meanings. Surely the Guptas are like the axe? They can convince the “trees” or emirs that they can afford to pay for protection.

That is not a nice allegation to make, of course, for it makes the emirs out to be racketeers. But emirates are not exactly transparent. Ask Jamal Khashoggi’s widow about Arabian justice. Rulers can be imposters, not inclined to accept responsibility. Money matters more, and the Guptas have plenty of it.

It could be difficult not to miss – when you shoot at a king in that part of the world! Lamola and Batohi will need to shoot with the accuracy of snipers.

Or what if we boycott? What if South Africa calls for a boycott of the World’s Greatest Show in Dubai in 2020?

The USA has already taken action against the Guptas and their cohorts, while South Africa and the United Arab Emirates dither. Maybe the Americans could be convinced that Dubai is harbouring criminals, so it should join a boycott? After all, Donald Trump has been known to lean on world leaders over investigations of corruption.

What about Lord Hain? Will he remember how Matthew Hedges, a PhD researcher from Britain was detained and imprisoned in Dubai in 2018 on trumped up charges of spying? Can he lobby for a boycott of the World Expo?

The ANC is no stranger to organising boycotts. Has the time not come to call a spade a spade, and an imposter and imposter?

Or will we allow the axe to keep chopping down trees, just because its handle is made of wood?

  • Chuck Stephens, Executive Director of the Desmond Tutu Centre for Leadership.
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