According to data research by Africa Check, claims about the total number of people employed across Gupta businesses is in dispute.
In South Africa, the Gupta family and their close relationship with key government leaders continue to dominate headlines. Last week allegations that they have left the country received intense media scrutiny.
Less scrutinised, however, are claims about the total number of people the Guptas employ across their various businesses. The most prominent voice on this issue is the CEO of the family’s holding company, Nazeem Howa.
Shortly after deputy minister of finance, Mcebisi Jonas, claimed in March that the Gupta family had offered him the job of finance minister, Howa wrote in an op-ed for City Press: “Oakbay Investments is the holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses, and we employ more than 4,500 people in South Africa.”
Last week, Business Day reported on Howa’s attempts to restore relationships with South Africa’s largest banks after they severed ties with Gupta-associated companies – “because the lives of 7,500 employees are at stake”.
So how many people do Gupta companies employ?
No response from CEO
Oakbay Investments’ website shows that the Guptas own companies across a number of sectors.
These include Sahara Computers, JIC Mining Services, Shiva uranium mine, Tegeta Resources, The New Age newspaper, ANN7 television news channel and Clifftop Lodge, a safari lodge located in the Welgevonden private game reserve in the Limpopo province. Also listed under Oakbay Investments is a company called Sahara Systems, distinct from Sahara Computers.
Africa Check asked Howa to provide a breakdown of staff numbers for these companies. However, at the time of publication, he had not responded.
We therefore assembled publicly available information and contacted the companies directly. Doing so showed gave us an initial figure of between 2,672 and 2,892 people.
However, this excludes employees of The New Age. We contacted the newspaper but have not yet received a response. (Note: We will update this report if we hear back.)
|Company||Source of data||Number of employees|
|Sahara Computers||Shop Directory||210|
|Sahara Systems||Phone conversation with a staff member||30-50|
|JIC Mining Services||JIC profile||1,200|
|Shiva Uranium||Oakbay Resources 2015 annual report||“1000+” according to annual report,800 according to a Shiva uranium mine employee|
|The New Age||No public information found||?|
|ANN 7||Information from ANN7 employee||282|
|Tegeta resources||Confirmed to Africa Check by Oakbay corporate communications||130|
|Clifftop Lodge||Confirmation by employee||20|
The total number of Gupta employees may rise if Oakbay’s recent deal to buy Optimum coal mine goes through, increasing the number of people in the Guptas’ employ from 4,500 to 7,500, Howa told the Financial Times.
Coal mine deal could push up staff size
But it is unclear whether Oakbay will obtain the necessary cash to finalise the deal, Stuart Theobald, chairman of financial research organisation Intellidex, told Africa Check.
Conclusion: No data found shows that Guptas employ 4,500 or 7,500 people as CEO claimed
Based on information we could access, the different Gupta-owned companies employ between 2,672 and 2,892 people, excluding The New Age newspaper’s staff.
The New Age would need to employ a minimum of 1,628 people to make up 4,500 employees, which is unlikely. The claim that Gupta businesses employ “more than 4,500”, or 7,500, employees is therefore not supported by available data.