Mentor discloses more details on Gupta job offer as opposition reacts to Jonas’ announcement

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 17, 2016

Former Portfolio Chairperson on Public Works Vytjie Mentor has revealed more details about President Jacob Zuma being present when members of the Gupta family offered her the position of Public Enterprises Ministers six years ago.

Writing in a post on Facebook shortly after 07h00 on Thursday, Mentor repeated previous claims Zuma was in a different room of the controversial family’s home in the upmarket Johannesburg suburb of Saxonworld when he declined the offer, and that he accompanied her down marble covered stairs to a black vehicle that transported her to the airport.

In a second post, Mentor remarked that the government connected family can continue with “their threats” as she has a “trump card” to back her claims up.

Her latest posts comes after Deputy Finance Mcebisi Jonas confirmed reports by the Sunday Times over the weekend, that the family offered him the position in National Treasury, weeks before the controversial dismissal of Nhlanhla Nene in December last year.

“Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then Minister Nene. I rejected this out of hand. The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the President of the Republic appoints ministers,” Jonas said in a statement on Wednesday night.

“We cannot afford to ignore the obvious impact these sentiments may have on our country and the resultant potential of undermining our moral authority. Neither can we afford to allow the attempts to capture the state to divert us from dealing with the challenges that our country faces”.

A spokesperson for the family however labelled the Deputy Minister’s claims as a cover-up to divert attention away from “his own relationships and practices”.

“We are confident questions about his own ethical standards will be exposed. We will not provide any further running commentary on what is now just a politically-motivated campaign against us,” the representative said in a statement.

Speaking in an interview with Eyewitness News on Thursday, Hogan stated that secret meetings with the Guptas had taken place over a number of years, and that she was “put under severe” pressure for refusing to hand over complete control of South African Airways’ route from India to private airline owned by the family.

“There was always talk of how many people were visiting them behind the scenes. I cannot tell you how much pressure I was put under to meet with Jet Airways, and I refused,” she said.

“The rotten forces are on the back foot. I would appeal to those people who believe that they still have to defend Zuma and who have benefitted from a close relationship with the Guptas, to now stand back and move on. They are not going to win this battle”.

Opposition parties have meanwhile lashed out at Zuma following Jonas’ confirmation, with Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Mmusi Maimane, saying the African National Congress (ANC) must seriously consider recalling the president “as his position is becoming increasingly untenable”.

“South Africa cannot afford to have the Gupta family pulling at the puppet strings of government. It cannot be that President Zuma’s close ties to one family are overlooked when these ties result in undue influence over government business and tender processes that should be to the benefit of the South African people,” he said.

Listing a number of senor government MP’s accused of having reported links with the Guptas, which include Zuma, Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and former Finance turned Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister David van Rooyen, Maimane said the party would submit an application for the establishing of and ad-hoc committee to investigate the allegations.

“In the wake of ongoing allegations involving the Gupta family and President Zuma, the National Assembly must investigate the Gupta family’s grip on the State’s resources,” he said.

Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem has said the party had already laid charges of corruption against Zuma and the Guptas following Mentor’s claims, while Economic Freedom Figthers (EFF) spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi remarked that the party feels vindicated by Jonas’s remarks.

“The Guptas have effectively undermined and rendered the votes of the people of South Africa and the democratic system useless. They continue to loot parastatals of millions of taxpayers funds through its racketeering schemes called The New Age and ANN7,” Ndlozi said.

“It also demonstrates that the ANC and Jacob Zuma have voluntarily handed over the political decision making of the country to a single family, the Guptas, which in itself is direct threat to the sovereignty and national security of the country.

“There is no further evidence needed as to why Zuma must not step down as the President of the Republic, unless we are being forced to accept to be controlled and run by an unelected civilian family”.

Ndlozi again stated that the allegations proves why the party would not be taking part when Zuma appears in Parliament at 14h00 this afternoon to answer questions.