Guptas ‘brought  ANC closer’

2013-05-21 00:00

THE fall-out from the landing of a private plane containing guests going to a wedding organised by the Gupta family has “pulled the ANC closer together”, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said.

Mantashe told reporters at a briefing in Johannesburg on the weekend’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting that people wanted to blame President Jacob Zuma for the irregular landing of the jet, but Zuma was not involved in giving permission for it.

Mantashe, who initially reacted sharply to the landing and called for a government investigation, said he didn’t have to labour his point in the NEC meeting, because it was an internal discussion. Likening himself to a loudhailer, he said he spoke on behalf of the body of the ANC in the meeting, but there was no further need to express this outrage because it would have brought the party to a standstill.

“The ANC asked for a process [of investigation] and after that process we keep quiet.”

Mantashe said the party welcomed the outcome of the investigation, done by directors-general of the departments involved.

“We appreciate details contained in the report and clarity given. It provides basic information on what happened,” he said.

The report, which will be released in the course of the week, exonerated ministers and Zuma, and laid the blame for the irregular process of getting permission for the landing squarely at the door of public servants.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told journalists at a briefing on the report on Sunday that Zuma’s name was used in the process of getting permission, together with those of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Mantashe said such name-dropping was nothing new and happened in all organisations.

“When you name-drop you exaggerate your weight,” Mantashe said, adding: “We are confident that the relevant ministers will take the process to its logical conclusion so that this incident does not repeat itself”.

The Gupta issue was discussed extensively at the NEC meeting and by ministers who met on the sidelines of the meeting, who resolved that ministers would not be fingered in the process.

Commenting on attacks against Zuma over the landing, Mantashe said this was part of electioneering. “People … want to make an entry point into the elections,” he said.

Parliament is set to debate the matter tomorrow and all indications are that the ANC will rally around Zuma, who is unlikely to be present during the debate as he is not an MP.

In a statement last night, the Gupta family welcomed the clarity the report had brought to the matter and repeated their apology for the embarrassment.

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