Guptas US Treasury

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 21: Ajay Gupta at the launch of the ANN7 news channel (Gallo Images / Esa Alexander)

Here’s what the Guptas’ naturalisation ruling really means for South Africa

A Parliamentary Committee has ruled that the Guptas must be stripped off their citizenship. This is what you need to know about the naturalisation debacle.

Guptas US Treasury

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 21: Ajay Gupta at the launch of the ANN7 news channel (Gallo Images / Esa Alexander)

A Parliamentary Portfolio Committee has declared the decision to naturalise members of the Gupta family as “invalid”, with specific reference to the status of Ajay Gupta. Ex-Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba was found to be “incorrect” when he pushed ahead to grant South African citizenship to the family members.

As TimesLive stated, the committee also recommended that Ashu Chawla’s SA citizenship be revoked, as he was the “central person” in the manipulation of the application process for the early naturalisation of the Guptas. He was also responsible for the facilitation of illegal visas for Gupta-linked Indian nationals.

Acting in cahoots with a less-than-honest Malusi Gigaba, the alleged ‘mastermind’ behind the Gupta clan’s infiltration into South Africa skipped the country back in September 2018. So where exactly does that leave us? We’re on hand to try and clean up this mess:

What the ruling on Ajay Gupta and his brothers really means:

What is Ajay Gupta’s citizenship status?

Ajay, a recent fugitive of South African law, never managed to complete his citizenship application. In India, no-one is allowed to possess dual citizenship. So this ruling doesn’t strip him of “South African” status, because he never had it in the first place – despite Gigaba’s statements to the contrary.

Ajay did not provide evidence to Home Affairs that he had relinquished his Indian citizenship, therefore he could not be naturalised. He remains the only member of his immediate family not to have gained his South African citizenship.

New criminal charges

The committee recommended that the judiciary add more criminal charges to the Guptas’ rap sheet. They advise that the brothers – along with Mr Chawla – must be indicted for submitting false information to back up their applications for early naturalisation.

That’s obviously going to be extremely difficult with all four of them taking refuge in Dubai at the moment. But, hope springs eternal: With Ajay’s fugitive status being lifted earlier in the year – and his vague promise to come back to SA and take on the state capture inquiry being issued – he may just face justice one day.

And if that doesn’t get him, perhaps a new extradition treaty with the UAE will.

Family members whose citizenship “will be revoked”

Rajesh Gupta

His name appears on the voter’s register, and Rajesh – who also goes by the name “Tony”, for some reason – became a permanent citizen of the state in 2008.

Atul Gupta

This is where the confusion begins. Gigaba infamously got his Guptas mixed up, and referred to both Atul and Ajay as the same person. Maybe “Tony’s” alias had thrown him, who knows?

Ajay Gupta’s wife

Mrs Shivani Gupta was successfully granted her citizenship in 2015, but this came just months after the family had their request for naturalisation as a unit turned down. It is believed they applied to Malusi Gigaba – due to their “exceptional circumstances” – who overturned the decision personally.

The Guptas’ parents and Ajay’s children

His actions also meant that the rest of the family could become naturalised. That includes Ajay Gupta’s mother, Mrs Angoori Gupta and his sons Mr Kamal Kant Singhala and Mr Surya Kant Singhala.

Guptas returning to the country

So without citizenship, will they be allowed to stay in South Africa if they so wish? Legally speaking, the answer is yes. They just would not be afforded the same luxuries as a naturalised citizen would. Looks like that’s a few votes for the ANC that have gone down the toilet, then.

What does this mean for Malusi Gigaba?

Somewhere down the line, it spells trouble. A cloud hangs over Gigabyte ever since his infamous resignation from office in 2018. He has been added back to the ANC Parliamentary List, suggesting he will run as an MP for the 2019 Elections. However, his return to the National Assembly could see him hauled in front of the Ethics Committee.

Gigaba only dodged an inquiry into perjury charges by quitting as an MP. If – or when – he returns as one, he will be under enormous pressure to face the music. Monday’s decision doesn’t exactly go down as an achievement he can put on his CV. In fact, this naturalisation debacle just shows him up to be a terrible liar… again.