Guptas: We were friends with Zuma before he was president

2016-03-18 11:08

Johannesburg - The Gupta family says it has been friends with President Jacob Zuma since 2000, before he became president.

This was revealed in a two page advertisement spread published in The New Age newspaper on Friday titled "Gupta Family, The Inconvenient Truth".

Oakbay Investments, the holding company of the family's businesses, said it was releasing details of a meeting it had with the ANC's top officials last month.

The two-page ad. (News24)

"Like any other South African businesses, we interact with the government," the family said.

"In fact, friendship with the previous president was as strong. Member of advisory committee, IMC, attended more SONAs [state of the nation address's] than currently."

The Guptas had listed a number of "accusations" levelled against them and countered each one with their version of the truth.

The family, who is said to have close ties with Zuma, his family and other ANC leaders, are believed to wield significant political influence in the country.

This once again came into the spotlight this week when Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas confirmed that the Guptas had offered him the job of finance minister before Nhlanhla Nene was removed. However, Jonas said he refused the offer.

Another former ANC MP and parliamentary caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor also alleged that in 2010 she met with the Guptas at their Saxonwold home where they offered her the job of Public Enterprise Minister before Babara Hogan was removed.

The family has denied both claims and has challenged Jonas and Mentor to provide proof.

On Thursday, Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi confirmed that he had also been invited to the Gupta family home. This was after he was appointed Mineral Resources Minister.

He was later replaced by ANC MP Mosebenzi Zwane, who was said to have ties to the Guptas.

Ramatlhodi replaced Collins Chabane, who died in a car accident.

Zwane, who is said to be close to Free State Premier Ace Magashule, was the ANC's provincial treasurer and a former agriculture MEC.

However, his term as a Free State MEC has been marred by controversies said to involve the Guptas.

Zwane also reportedly played a role in the private jet carrying guests for a Gupta wedding in Sun City, landing at Waterkloof Airforce Base in 2013.

Here are a list of other "accusations" and the Guptas "truth":

- Accusation: The Guptas are responsible for the colonisation of the country
According to the family this is a "ridiculous suggestion".

"However, we have created more than 4 500 jobs for South Africans and have contributed R276m in corporate taxes for 2015, which benefits the people of South Africa."
They questioned whether this was colonisation.

- Accusation: Gupta firms benefit from government business
Again the family said this was "absurd" when only less than 1% of the group's business was with the government.

The Guptas said it had the same frustrations as others - waiting seven years for DMR appeal and more than five years for a water license.

- Accusation: Robbing the country
The Guptas are claiming they benefit the country and in no way rob it.

According to figures, which they say their auditors have verified, the family has invested more than R10bn in the country, they have created more than 4 500 jobs and contributed to corporate taxes.

"We issue an invitation to our critics to review the group's numbers. No profits leave these shores, rather [they are] used to grow business, jobs," the Guptas claimed.

- Accusation: Influential Guptas got billions of rands coal supply contract from Eskom
The family claimed its company Tegeta supplied less than 1% of the total supply of coal to the parastatal.

"More than 80% of the supply contracts are with the Big 5. Our total billing to Eskom to date is under R400m. Eskom annual payments for coal runs into R50bn," they said.

- Accusations: Guptas twisted Glencore's arm to buy Optimum mine
The Guptas said Optimum was under business rescue and Tegeta was in the process of buying it for R2.51bn. It was the highest bidder as per business rescue practitioners that could save jobs in the process, they claimed.

The family said it met Glencore's price demand of R2.15bn.

- Accusation: Guptas control the department of mineral resources
The family said it had applied for 100 mining licences from the department over several years, and "received none".

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  gupta family  |  politics  |  corruption

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