The latest revelations in the media relating to the #Guptaleaks email saga alleging that Ashu Chawla, COO of the Gupta-controlled Sahara Computers, used his connections at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to secure preferential treatment on the processing of visas for Gupta friends and relatives in India is a further example of the undue influence that the Guptas and their lieutenants enjoyed.
Leaked Gupta-emails reveal that Mr Chawla used his contact in the DHA, Major Kobese, a Director of the foreign office coordination in the Department, to expedite various visa requests which could otherwise have taken time to be issued, had the normal processes been followed. In certain instances, the email trail shows Mr Chawla making demands for visas to be issued in the same day.
Given the allegations of undue influence, the DA will be writing to the Chair of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee, Lemias Mashile, to ask that he calls Major Kobese to come and account for his actions. In allowing undue influence from private interests to influence his professional conduct, Mr Kobese may have violated the code of conduct for Public Servants which require that employees serve the public in an unbiased and impartial manner in order to create confidence in the Public Service.
The latest revelations are yet another example of the undue influence that the Gupta family was permitted, via their close relationship with the President, to exert over government departments.
The actions of Mr Chawla constitute undue interference in the administrative affairs of the DHA. Using contacts in the DHA to arrange or expedite visa processing, if done in an unlawful manner, could constitute the offence of corruption under the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. The officials that assisted in this regard may additionally be guilty of offences in terms of section 49(5) of the Immigration Act.
The National Prosecuting Authority cannot continue to turn a blind eye to such brazen violations of the law by the Guptas and their associates. Confidence in the government’s ability to combat corruption must be restored as a matter of urgency, and the infractions of Ashu Chawla and Major Kobese should be a viewed with the seriousness they deserve.
The DA remains committed to ensuring that our state institutions are liberated from the toxic influence of the Guptas and their associates.