'I never engaged them beyond basic pleasantries' - Ramaphosa on the Guptas

2019-07-26 14:52
President Cyril Ramaphosa address the nation on the Public Protector's report.Photo by Felix Dlangamandla

President Cyril Ramaphosa address the nation on the Public Protector's report.Photo by Felix Dlangamandla

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has told the state capture commission of inquiry, in a sworn affidavit, that he never engaged members of the Gupta family beyond "basic greetings, pleasantries and common courtesies".

"I have met two of the brothers on three or four occasions.

"My interactions with the Gupta brothers were at events where nothing of any consequence was discussed. I never engaged with them beyond basic greetings, pleasantries and common courtesies," Ramaphosa said in an affidavit dated July 2, 2019.

Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the affidavit public on Friday, following a request from Ramaphosa "to avoid speculation".

This comes after Zondo asked the president to clarify if he had any relations with the Gupta family and its entities or Bosasa personalities and its entities.

However, the president only recalls one instance in which he was in the presence of the Guptas and "matters of substance were discussed". This was in relation to the issue of banks.

Ramaphosa can't recall meeting Agrizzi

"One of them arrived for the meeting and I think it was Tony Gupta. At this meeting, held during April 2016, various issues were discussed, including the closure of the bank accounts of one of their businesses, Oakbay," Ramaphosa explained.

It was in this meeting where Ramaphosa says he raised the issue of the landing of the 747 jumbo jet at the Waterkloof air force base in 2013.

"I stated that they had, through their actions, placed the former president in an invidious position," he added.

Turning to Bosasa, the president claimed that, while it was entirely possible that he may have interacted with former Bosasa executive, Angelo Agrizzi, in his position at the Molope Group [where Agrizzi worked for Grantham Catering which was a subsidiary]. Ramaphosa stated that "he does not recall doing so".

"In my work with the Molope Group, the company would have been in direct competition with Bosasa at the time. I may therefore have interacted with Bosasa directors or employees at the time or been at the same events as them. However, I have no personal recollection of any such interactions," the six-page affidavit reads.

He added that he had been informed that former Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson and the company's director Trevor Mathenjwa had attended the wedding of his son, Andile Ramaphosa, on August 4, 2018, in Uganda.

"Over a 1 000 people attending this event, including between 150 and 200 guests who flew from South Africa for the occasion. I have no recollection of any interaction with them at that event,” he added

'No personal recollection'

While the president acknowledged that Watson and his siblings were actively involved in the United Democratic Front in their hometown of Port Elizabeth , he had "no personal recollection of ever doing so:.

Ramaphosa further admited to taking a tour of the call centre at the Bosasa head offices in July or August, 2016, where volunteers were assisting the ANC in its campaign in the local government elections. Ramaphosa submitted that, at this time, he had no knowledge of the source of funding for this centre.

He lists at least five instances where he may have interacted with Bosasa executives. He also lists two instances where he may have interacted with the Guptas.

Ramaphosa further notes that the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (CRF) - where he is a board member - is a partner with the Adopt-A-School foundation where Watson and Mathenjwa attended one of its Back-to-School parties. 

"To my knowledge, no donation was ever made to the foundation by Bosasa," he said

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