On political connections

2011-03-05 18:44

Asked whether their Saxonwold compound has become a centre of political discussion and socialising for ministers and senior government officials, Ajay says: “The two things, we don’t mix them.”

He denies that government policies or tenders are discussed at their home, but easily admits that they have lots of politician friends who spend time at their estate.

This includes Zuma; Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, who visited the family last Saturday to deliver “gogo atchar” to the Gupta matriarch and share a “Zulu meal” with them; and Mining Minister Susan Shabangu, who he says could not be benefiting them because they receive many critical queries from her department about their mines.

As an example, the Guptas say they host a big function at their home yearly to celebrate Diwali, to which ministers “and a few hundred people” are invited.

Ajay denies that their access to top ANC politicians is extraordinary.

Asked why other top businesspeople don’t have this kind of access, Ajay says: “Because they want the access for some benefit.

“I’m not using this thing for any commercial benefit or advantage. So that’s why people are more comfortable with me.”

Parekh adds: “In a lot of instances, these relationships predate them (the politicians) being in office.”

Asked to explain how these relationships with politicians start, Atul says the question shows a lack of understanding of cultural differences.

Ajay says: “Come with me to my hometown of Saharanpur (in India), and maybe a few hundred people will come to meet with me. Across the border, the politicians feel comfortable because I have no conflict of interest with them. If I have a conflict of interest, they will never come to me.”

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