‘I met Guptas at public events’
THE storm over Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to come clean about his meetings with the Guptas intensified this week, but in a 2016 parliamentary question he acknowledged that he met the controversial family.
The EFF are gunning for Gordhan to be axed from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet after it appeared that he had contradicted himself in his statement to the state capture commission with his earlier responses.
Gordhan is due to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture this week where he is expected to confirm meeting the Guptas.
This followed the leaking of his statement to the media.
Independent Media has seen a parliamentary question by the DA on his meetings with the Guptas, and Gordhan confirmed meeting the family.
The question was asked by DA MP Michael Bagraim in 2016 when he asked Gordhan if he ever met the Guptas or any of their close associates at their Saxonwold compound.
In his written response Gordhan admitted to this.
“I have not attended any meeting with the Gupta family or anyone else at their Saxonwold Estate. I have encountered one or more members of his family at public events on a few occasions, for example, a cricket match. I have met
one of the Gupta brothers at Mahlamba Ndlopfu around 2009/10 during which a brief discussion on small business finance took place,” said Gordhan.
However, the minister did not specify who in the Gupta family he met at Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the president’s official residence in Pretoria.
The EFF has asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate Gordhan for meeting
Ajay Gupta and an Indian billionaire “Mr Ambani” to discuss the possible acquisition of MTN.
The party has also sent Gordhan a list of 33 questions to answer including his role, when he was commissioner of the SA Revenue Service, in the establishment of the “rogue unit”.
It also wants him to clear the air on his role in the probe into Julius Malema’s tax affairs a few years ago. Malema was slapped with a massive tax bill by the revenue service.
The Nugent commission of inquiry is probing governance issues at Sars where the issue of the collapse of the tax system has come up. Former Sars commissioner Tom Moyane was fired by President Cyril Ramaphosa recently in line with the recommendations of Judge Robert Nugent.
In the leaked statement, Gordhan said he met the Guptas in Pretoria and former president Jacob Zuma had called him to this meeting.
Before he left government, former minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene said many ministers would appear before the Zondo Commission.
Nene was forced to leave government after it emerged he had lied about meeting the Guptas. In his submission and testimony, Nene said he met the family several times.
The Active Citizens’ Movement and Merebank Justice Network have rushed to the defence of Gordhan.
Dr Ashok Chandika described the EFF’s call for Gordhan to be sacked as “desperate, ill-conceived and baseless”.
“Their desperation stems from the fact that they are on the back-foot with respect to the VBS looting saga in which high-ranking EFF officials may be implicated,” he said.