Gordhan’s Gupta meeting storm
EFF have asked public protector to investigate minister
THE EFF is piling pressure on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in the run-up to his testimony at the Zondo commission into state capture next week.
Yesterday, the red berets announced that they had written to the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate Gordhan for allegedly lying to Parliament over his meetings with the controversial Gupta family.
This follows the leaking of Gordhan’s affidavit to the commission relating to his tenure as finance minister, in which he details his meetings with the Gupta brothers.
The EFF has taken issue with one meeting mentioned in the affidavit, which they accused Gordhan of not disclosing and of lying about the presence of a Treasury senior official.
According to Gordhan’s affidavit, the meeting was requested by Indian businessman, Mr Ambaani, and related to his interests in investing in telecommunications company MTN.
It was attended by one of the Gupta brothers and Gordhan’s then-chief of staff, Dondo Mogajane, who is currently director-general of Treasury.
EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Gordhan failed to disclose that Mogajane met the Guptas despite being in the meeting with him when the party asked whether or not Treasury officials had met the Guptas.
“In response, Pravin Gordhan categorically stated that: ‘The National Treasury is not aware of any senior officials from the level of director-general downwards to have met with the persons mentioned in the Parliamentary question during the period 1 January 2009 up to 31 December 2015.’ Yet, in his affidavit, on paragraph 123, Pravin Gordhan states that a meeting with the Indian billionaire, Mr Ambaani, and Ajay Gupta was arranged by his then chief of staff, Dondo Mogajane,” Ndlozi said.
Ndlozi said Gordhan had undermined the Executive Ethics Code by lying to Parliament.
In his affidavit, Godhan said the meeting with Ambaani, in which they discussed regulatory processes required
to obtain approval for a transaction such as of MTN, lasted for less than an hour and that he did not recollect if the eldest Gupta brother, Ajay, was present.
“Mr Mogajane has advised me that he recollects that Mr Ajay Gupta was present at the meeting. I do not recall him being present,” Gordhan said.
The EFF has rejected Gordhan’s explanation, and instead, took further issue with him for not initially including the meeting with Ambaani in his reply to a 2016 question asked by the DA in Parliament about his meetings with the Guptas.
Gordhan said he did not mention the meeting because he had no recollection of it when he submitted the written response.
“In this response to Parliament, Gordhan deliberately did not include a meeting he held with the Indian billionaire, Mr Ambaani, and Ajay Gupta, to discuss the possible investment in MTN, which is strange since Pravin Gordhan was not a significant shareholder in MTN, nor any of its executives,” Ndlozi said. Gordhan’s spokesperson, Adrian Lackay, could not be reached for comment.
DA national spokesperson Solly Malatsi said he had no immediate recollection of the questions asked to Gordhan.
Ndlozi said Gordhan would have to follow on former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s footsteps and resign for misleading Parliament.
“In the same way the Public Protector exposed the lies of Malusi Gigaba, the office should do the same with the liar who has been behaving like he is a paragon of political correctness and virtue. When Nhlanhla Nene was exposed as having told lies about his Gupta relationship, he fell on his sword. Pravin Gordhan should fall on his sword for lying as well,” he said.
Yesterday, Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe confirmed that the office is investigating Gordhan following the EFF complaint.