On meeting politicians

2011-03-05 18:46

Ajay Gupta says he meets politicians in “any way­?.?.?. it can be someone who feels this is a good guy, let’s meet with him, and yes, sometimes I also invite people to my functions. Most of them are long-term relations”.

Prompted to explain further, Ajay says: “For you he’s a minister, for me he’s a friend. Please understand that. If I ask a minister about his budget, he won’t even say hello to me.”

Ajay then cites Essop Pahad as an example: “He is not a minister, but he is still my friend and a mentor of the family. Why are people not understanding this thing?”

According to him, he had “almost the same access” during the Mbeki regime.

“I did not do anything; now I have the same access to the Zuma regime. I am one of the only few members (who remained) on the International Marketing Council, at that time and now also,” he says.

Ajay says there has been a “microscope” over the family since Zuma was elected ANC president in December 2007.

To challenge the belief that they’ve benefited from the Zuma presidency, the Guptas gave City Press pictures of Mbeki, Motlanthe and former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka attending their functions.

Ajay says he attended “a lot” of state functions in the past, which he used as a networking platform to meet people.

Apart from a few bottles of pickles and small plants, the Guptas insist they are not benefiting from their “friendships” with politicians.

When asked whether Zuma or his family have received any financial benefits or gifts from the Guptas, Ajay responds with a categorical “no”.

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