Pretoria – New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says he has met the Gupta family, but that they have no influence on the decisions he takes.
Gigaba was speaking at a press briefing following Standard & Poor’s (S&P's) decision to downgrade South Africa’s credit rating to junk status.
It was revealed on Fin24 that Gigaba’s new advisers at Treasury have controversial backgrounds, with one having alleged links to the Guptas.
FIRST ON FIN24: Gigaba brings controversial advisers to Treasury
Responding to a question by Fin24 on his relationship with the Gupta family, Gigaba said that he has no relationship with them.
“As I meet many other business people, it does not mean I have a relationship with them,” he said. “Meeting someone does not mean they have an impact on your decisions. Ultimately I take my own decisions.”
He said that he has visited the family, and celebrated Diwali with them, as he has celebrated other religious events hosted by other people at their homes.
“But these things do not impact on my ability to take decisions,” he reiterated.
In court papers this year, the Oppenheimers accused Gigaba of being influenced by the Guptas over their luxury international airport terminal in Johannesburg, Fireblade. It’s an allegation Gigaba denied in court.
READ MORE ON HUFFINGTON POST: Gigaba Takes On The Oppenheimers Over Luxury Joburg Airport Terminal, Denies Gupta Influence
The South African Communist Party believes Gigaba was selected solely to do the Gupta family’s bidding at the Treasury.
"The Guptas have almost, now with the removal of [Finance Minister] Pravin Gordhan, ensured that they have unfettered access to the resources at Treasury," SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said on Friday.
The Guptas have close ties to President Jacob Zuma. They have been accused of having undue influence over his appointment of ministers and the running of state-owned enterprises.
Save SA also said Zuma’s reshuffle was a Gupta coup, especially as it resulted in the removal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba addressing media at National Treasury in Pretoria on Tuesday. (Photo: AFP).Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories