Martins be­ing eco­nom­i­cal with the truth – Mon­tana

Ex-Prasa boss says he met the Gup­tas through min­is­ter

Sowetan - - News - By Bianca Capazorio

For­mer Prasa chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Lucky Mon­tana has hit back at Deputy Min­is­ter Ben Martins ac­cus­ing him of bend­ing the truth, just hours after the lat­ter branded Eskom’s sus­pended le­gal ad­vi­sor Suzanne Daniels a liar.

Daniels told Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day that she had been in­vited to a cof­fee meet­ing by Gupta-linked Salim Essa, at which Ajay Gupta, Martins and Duduzane Zuma were present and dis­cussed the court case of erst­while Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Brian Molefe.

At a brief press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, Martins called Daniels a “clue­less ig­no­ra­mus” and “liar.” He said the “phan­tom” meet­ing had never taken place.

How­ever, Martins ad­mit­ted that he had met the Gup­tas on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions – at an In­dian food fair at their home; be­fore a New Age break­fast, and once at his home in Pre­to­ria with Mon­tana to dis­cuss “a mat­ter rel­e­vant to trans­port at that stage”.

Martins said Mon­tana and then chair­man of the Prasa board, Si­fiso Buthelezi, had writ­ten to him with con­cerns that they would lose their po­si­tions due to Gupta in­flu­ence.

Mon­tana, how­ever, took to Twit­ter yes­ter­day say­ing that he “did not know any Gupta un­til in­vited by Min­is­ter Martins to his min­is­te­rial home.

“It is rather un­for­tu­nate that I am said to have brought with me Ra­jesh Gupta, whom I have never met be­fore. He came with Duduzane Zuma to the meet­ing, clearly at the in­vi­ta­tion of my leader, com­rade and friend, Ben Martins,” Mon­tana said.

“I am the only CEO in this coun­try who re­jected Gup­tas and their spe­cific at­tempts to ma­nip­u­late the R53-bil­lion

‘‘ I didn’t know any Gupta till in­vited by Martins to his of­fi­cial home

Prasa ten­der for com­muter trains. It is for this rea­son that they wanted Buthelezi and I to be re­moved. The lead­er­ship failed to pro­tect me and only acted when I threat­ened to re­sign and is­sue my let­ter to the pub­lic.”

At­tempts to con­tact Mon­tana were un­suc­cess­ful.

Martins is a mem­ber of the cen­tral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the SACP which has taken a strong stance against state cap­ture and the in­flu­ence of the Gup­tas in the af­fairs of its al­liance part­ner the ANC.

Alex Mashilo, spokesman of the SACP, said the party had re­ceived a re­port from Martins late on Wed­nes­day after Daniels’ al­le­ga­tions.

Mashilo said Martins had pre­vi­ously ad­mit­ted to the meet­ings with the Gup­tas, but he said in no way was he in­flu­enced to act against es­tab­lished prin­ci­ples and pro­ce­dures.

/ MARTIN RHODES

Deputy Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Ben Martins has de­nied meet­ing the Gup­tas with sus­pended Eskom head of le­gal Suzanne Daniels.

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