'I refused to schedule a meeting with the Gupta family' - Gordhan tells #StateCaptureInquiry

2018-11-21 06:02

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has taken a swipe at the Gupta family, saying an invitation he received from the family to a Sun City wedding found its "way into the waste basket, where it belonged". 

He told state capture inquiry chairperson, Deputy Justice Raymond Zondo, during his testimony on Tuesday that he refused to schedule a meeting with the family. 

"At no stage would I have entertained meeting directly with the Guptas," he said. 

He also said he never had a one-on-one meeting with the Guptas and never visited their family home in Saxonwold. 

When ministers accompanied former president Jacob Zuma to functions, including breakfast briefings following the State of the Nation Address, he recalled one or more of the Gupta brothers would be present. Although he would see the brothers, he would not interact with them, he added.

"I am not for sale to anybody," he testified.

"Let me repeat, I refused to schedule a meeting with the Gupta family, whether at their residence or anywhere else," he said. 

Gordhan said he saw them at cricket matches once or twice but that did not mean there was a meeting.

Gordhan also told the commission about the time a Gupta brother may have been at a meeting he had with businessman Anil Ambani of the Reliance group of companies in or about June 2010. 

He said he did not recall the details and that he was assisted by his former chief of staff, Dondo Mogajane. 

Gordhan added that he was told that the Presidency put Rajesh Gupta in touch with Mogajane, and repeatedly asked for a meeting with him and even asked to attend the meeting in Saxonwold.  

The minister said according to his office there were repeated efforts to try and meet him and get him into the meeting, "all of which turned down by my office or myself", he said. 

"I refused to schedule a meeting with the Gupta family, whether at their residence or anywhere else," he said. 

He said the only meeting he agreed to was with Ambani and added that Mogajane advised him that the meeting only lasted less than an hour.  

Ministers of finance meet hundreds of investors on behalf of the country and this was just one of those, he said.  

Asked if he lied to Parliament about meeting with the Guptas, Gordhan said: "I would not lie to Parliament. If I wanted to, I could have left the meeting out, it is here, it is declared, meeting with Mr Ambani, evidence of both my and my office's commitment."

He said he intended to write to the speaker for clarification from the DA. 

Gordhan said at the time of the response he had no recollection of the Gupta attendee, because that meeting was with Mr Ambani.  

He emphasised that the meeting he had was with Mr Ambani - not a Gupta brother. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Gordhan also challenged his detractors to appear before the commission and "say their piece under oath".

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm accountable to citizens of this country, then Parliament and my political organisation. But I'm not accountable to bullies," he said."Those making allegations outside or inside this forum should, under oath, come to this commission and say what they have to say.

"They must subject themselves to cross-examination. I appeared before [Judge] Nugent, under oath, and also here and have nothing to fear. I am not a commodity for sale and the Guptas learned that too."

Gordhan is expected to appear before the commission again on Wednesday at 10:00.

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