South African President Jacob Zuma gestures as he delivers a speech during the ANC’s Fifth Annual Policy Conference in Johannesburg on June 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN
A South African opposition party on Monday asked police to investigate allegations that taxpayers’ money paid for the lavish wedding of a family with close ties to President Jacob Zuma.
Citing leaked emails, local media alleged last week that $3.3-million meant to help poor farmers was instead moved through companies owned by the Guptas and used to settle bills for the 2013 wedding.
The four-day event marked the marriage of a niece of one of the Gupta brothers. The wealthy Indian business family is at the centre of a slew of graft scandals surrounding Zuma.
The brothers, who have taken South African citizenship, are accused of wielding undue influence over the president and being unfairly awarded lucrative government contracts.
The Democratic Alliance party has asked police to probe the wedding costs.
“The fact that public funds, meant to assist the poor, were allegedly used to pay for President Jacob Zuma’s number one clients, the Guptas’, family wedding is grotesque,” said DA lawmaker David Maynier.
It “must be investigated without fear or favour,” he added.
There was no immediate confirmation from police that the matter would be investigated.
The wedding, attended by several government ministers, was held at Sun City, a luxury casino resort 200 kilometres (125 miles) northwest of Johannesburg.
The Guptas’ influence over the government was highlighted when a large private jet carrying foreign guests to the event was allowed to land at Waterkloof Air Force base, outside Pretoria.
The airport is a military facility normally used to receive heads of state.
Guests did not go through normal immigration checks, and were given a police escort to the wedding venue.
President Zuma and the Guptas have previously denied wrongdoing.