A wealthy business family in South Africa that has been criticized for allegedly improper links to President Jacob Zuma says it is the "scapegoat for every calamity and misfortune" in the country during economic hard times.

In a two-page spread Friday in a newspaper it owns, the Gupta family did not directly address accusations that it tried to boost business by influencing some of Zuma's choices for Cabinet posts, even allegedly offering the finance minister's job to an official who said he rejected the proposal.

The Gupta family says its "interaction" with Zuma began before he became president, and that allegations of corruption are false. The Indian immigrant family says it is speaking out because of "hate speech" against it.

The announcement was published in The New Age.