Presidency rejects ex-MP’s Gupta job offer claims

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 16, 2016

The Presidency has reportedly denied allegations by a former African National Congress (ANC) MP’s that the government connected Gupta family had offered her the position of Public Enterprises Minister, shortly after the dismissal of Barbara Hogan six years ago.

In a Facebook post on Monday evening directed as a comment to the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Johann Abrie, former Portfolio Chairperson on Public Works, Vytjie Mentor, claimed she met with members of the family at their home in Saxonworld, where she was offered the position in return for dropping South African Airways’ route from India and handing it to them. She also alleged that President Jacob Zuma had been present in another room when she declined the offer.

“President Jacob Zuma has no recollection of Ms Mentor. He is therefore unable to comment on any alleged incident in her career,” Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said in a statement issued on Tuesday evening.

Speaking in a follow up reaction, Majola also blasted claims by The Citizen on Wednesday that Mentor had accompanied Zuma on a state visit to China in 2010, and that then Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba had called for her be investigated after she had received a payment of R155 000 from Transnet.

“Ms Mentor was definitely not part of the official delegation to the People's Republic of China, should she have travelled to the country during the State Visit,” Majola said.

“By stating that Ms Mentor “accompanied” President Zuma on a State Visit to China, the media gives the public an incorrect impression of a status similar to that of Ministers or Deputy Ministers who receive direct formal invitations from the President to accompany him”

He reaffirmed that Zuma has no recollection of Mentor ever accompanying him on the visit, or her being offered the position by the Guptas.

A spokesperson for the family has meanwhile said it would be seeking legal action against Mentor, adding that her claims were mere attempts to “gain media attention”.

“South Africa has a robust constitution and a strict process governing appointment of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. We [therefore] challenge Vytjie Mentor to file an affidavit,” the statement read.

Over the weekend the Sunday Times reported that the controversial family had made similar offer to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, two weeks before Zuma’s surprise firing of Nhlanhla Nene in favour of little-known ANC backbencher David van Rooyen.