President Zuma’s Controversial Friend Is Now The Wealthiest South African Of Color



This week, a new list of South Africa’s richest came out and the ranking has annoyed some South Africans because of one revelation in particular; Atul Gupta, President Zuma’s controversial friend, has become the richest person of color in South Africa.

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Atul Gupta is the overall seventh richest South African on the Business Times Rich List with 10.7 billion rand ($773 million). Normally, such a feat would be celebrated as an achievement for a person of color in South Africa but the citizens see the ranking as another sign of their President’s patronage and corruption.

gupta-and-zuma

President Zuma was shown to have allowed the Gupta family influence some political appointments and state-owned companies in the State Capture report that was the final gift of Thuli Mandonsela to the nation before she left her position as the Public Protector of South Africa.

This new list was compiled by research company Who Owns Whom and ranks wealth based on disclosed holdings in companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Atul Gupta managed to overtake the man widely designated the position of the first black billionaire in Africa, Patrice Motsepe, who now ranked at number 11 with $690 billion.

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Patrice Motsepe is also known to have benefited from political connections, which paved the way for his mining empire, but his wealth was viewed as a result of addressing the economic inequalities resulting from apartheid.

The Gupta’s are another story. Atul Gupta, along with his older brother Ajay and younger brother Rajesh, own Oakbay Investments, home to the Guptas’ stable of companies ranging from mining to media and technology. They have come a long way since they came to South Africa from India in 1993, just as apartheid was ending.

Atul Gupta

Their increased wealth in recent times has, however, been attributed to courting political favors rather than any entrepreneurial spirit. The family name has become synonymous with corruption in South Africa.

Here are the top ten South African Moguls ranked by Who Owns Whom;

  • Christo Wiese
  • Ivan Glasenberg
  • Stephen Saad
  • John Whitaker
  • Laurie Dippenaar
  • Ewald Steinhoff
  • Atul Gupta
  • Rupert Family
  • Jannie Mouton
  • Koos Bekker

Besides the benefits of Presidential friendships encapsulated in Atul Gupta’s rise, the list also revealed that the demographic of wealth has changed very little in South Africa. White male South Africans are still the vast majority.

The list of 250 names only has 45 black men or women featured. The first black woman on the list, Anna Mokgokong of the Afrocentric Investment Corporation, ranks 131st.