The employees of the Gupta family have cried out to banks in South Africa to open the accounts of Oakbay Investments, the family’s investment vehicle, which were closed following controversies over the family’s relationship with President Jacob Zuma.
The immigrant family is believed to be wielding undue influence in the country, with senior officials of the ruling African National Congress last month alleging that the wealthy Indian family offered them cabinet posts in exchange for business concessions.
Despite efforts to ensure the accounts were reopened, pressure on the Guptas continued as President Zuma escaped impeachment, thanks to ANC majority in the parliament. The Guptas later left Oakbay following what they called “a sustained political attack on the company.” This did not change the status quo; the Oakbay accounts remain closed.
In an open letter to South African banks, the employees ask that the closed accounts be opened so as to allow the company pay their salaries.
“We are not rich people. We are not politically connected. We have not captured the state. We have never offered any politician a job,” the letter read, referring to allegations against the Guptas.
We do not know if any of the allegations against the Gupta family or Oakbay’s management are true. We do not care.
All we care about is providing for our families. If you do not open Oakbay’s bank accounts we cannot be paid and Oakbay cannot pay its bills.
If by the end of May the accounts remain closed, Oakbay’s businesses will close. That means that thousands of us will be without a job.
How will we pay our bills? How will we feed our families? You will not just be hurting us, but our children too. Must they go to school on an empty stomach? What happens when we cannot pay our rent or house bonds? Will our children have to live on the street?
We urge you to recognise that your actions have a human cost. Only a few weeks ago the companies we worked for were profitable and our jobs secure. We do not understand why we have become the victims in a political game.
Please reopen the bank accounts so that we do not have to suffer. We, the employees, have not done anything wrong.
The letter addressed to Maria Ramos, Chief Executive Officer, ABSA; Jacques Celliers, Chief Executive Officer, FNB; Ben Kruger, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Bank; and Michael Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Nedbank was signed by Employee Representatives P Mosomane and R Russo.