Zuma and Fana con­tra­dict Madon­sela

CityPress - - News - LEANNE GE­ORGE news@city­press.co.za

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma and the con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness­man Fana Hlong­wane have writ­ten af­fi­davits sup­port­ing Ajay Gupta’s claim that Mce­bisi Jonas lied about the el­der Gupta brother of­fer­ing him the job of fi­nance min­is­ter. But dur­ing her state cap­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Jonas told then Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela that he was taken to a ho­tel room on Oc­to­ber 23 2015 to meet with Hlong­wane and Zuma. After­wards, Jonas said, they took him to a meet­ing at the Gupta res­i­dence in Sax­on­wold, Jo­han­nes­burg, where Ajay Gupta al­legedly of­fered him R600 mil­lion in ex­change for favours, should Jonas be­come min­is­ter of fi­nance.

The first pay­ment, a bag con­tain­ing R600 000 in cash, was ap­par­ently avail­able im­me­di­ately. Madon­sela said in her State of Cap­ture re­port that she be­lieved Jonas’ ver­sion. Cell­phone records ob­tained by the for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor showed that both Hlong­wane and Zuma were in the Sax­on­wold area on that day.

In Hlong­wane and Zuma’s af­fi­davits, they do not dis­pute the al­le­ga­tion that the meet­ing was moved to the Gupta res­i­dence, but they do not ex­plain how none of the Gup­tas was present at their own home. They ex­pressly deny that Ajay Gupta was there, though.

All the lat­est af­fi­davits in the mat­ter were filed in the Pre­to­ria High Court on Fri­day, in a case in which Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han is ask­ing the court to de­clare that he does not have the power to in­ter­fere with a de­ci­sion by banks to close ac­counts as­so­ci­ated with the Gup­tas.

Madon­sela also wrote in her re­port that the onus was on Pres­i­dent Zuma to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions. But she said there was no ap­par­ent at­tempt made by the pres­i­dent to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions made by Jonas and for­mer ANC mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Vytjie Men­tor, who also said the Gup­tas had of­fered her a Cabi­net post.

Gord­han said in his heads of ar­gu­ment that the Gup­tas had con­tin­u­ously both­ered him and had “in­sisted” that he in­ter­vene in the banks’ de­ci­sion to close their ac­counts. That is why Gord­han ap­proached the courts to con­firm that he couldn’t in­ter­fere.

How­ever, Ron­ica Ra­ga­van, act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Gup­tas’ hold­ing com­pany, Oak­bay In­vest­ments, hit back in her first af­fi­davit in the court bat­tle in Jan­uary, and said the Gup­tas did not dis­pute that Gord­han did not have the power to in­ter­fere with the banks’ de­ci­sion, but that they still op­posed his ap­pli­ca­tion.

Ra­ga­van also ar­gued that Gord­han was driv­ing a “po­lit­i­cal cam­paign” against the Gup­tas. But ac­cord­ing to Gord­han, the Gup­tas were making the al­le­ga­tions out of the blue, be­cause there had never been any men­tion of such a cam­paign in their ear­lier cor­re­spon­dence with him.

In Ra­ga­van’s lat­est af­fi­davit, also filed on Fri­day, she ob­jects to the al­le­ga­tion that the Gup­tas used R1.3 bil­lion of the Op­ti­mum Mine’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion trust to make sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions. The mine was ac­quired by the Gup­tas in 2015.

She said the money was merely trans­ferred to an ac­count at the Bank of Bar­oda and that al­le­ga­tions about its source were “defam­a­tory”.

The case will be heard on March 28 and 29. –

Fana Hlong­wane

Duduzane Zuma

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