Gord­han’s Gupta meet­ing storm

EFF have asked pub­lic pro­tec­tor to in­ves­ti­gate min­is­ter

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIVIWE FEKETHA siviwe.feketha@inl.co.za

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.

Pravin Gord­han

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