Timeline: Jonas and the Guptas

2016-03-17 07:12
Mcebisi Jonas (File, News24)

Mcebisi Jonas (File, News24)

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Watch the moment Mcebisi Jonas said Guptas offered him Nene's job

2016-03-16 19:21

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas says the Guptas offered him the Minister of Finance before Nhlanhla Nene was fired.WATCH

Johannesburg - Confirmation that Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas was offered the top job in the ministry by the politically connected Gupta family left South Africa reeling on Wednesday night.

This was not the first time the Guptas, who are said to have strong ties to President Jacob Zuma, his family and other ANC leaders, had been accused of trying to influence Cabinet appointments.

Here is a timeline of how Jonas's offer came to light:

- Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Financial Times reports that the Gupta family met with Jonas a few weeks before Nhlanhla Nene was removed as finance minister, offering him the job, however Jonas turned them down.

Shortly after the supposed meeting, President Jacob Zuma removed Nene from the post and replaced him with ANC backbencher Des van Rooyen.

At the time Treasury refused to comment on the report.

The Guptas also denied that any member of their family had met with the deputy finance minister.

"To be absolutely clear: there was no meeting between any member of the Gupta family with Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas at all," they said in a response to questions from News24.

The family challenged "faceless purveyors of these lies to provide evidence of any of these allegations".

- Sunday, March 13, 2016

Another newspaper, the Sunday Times, also reports that the Guptas had offered Jonas the top job in the finance ministry. However, the paper has new information.

The Sunday Times also reported that Zuma’s son Duduzane was at the meeting at a Sandton hotel in November. The newspaper further alleged that ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte offered Jonas the position a few days later.

In a statement on Sunday, the ANC rejected the Sunday Times report as nothing but “gossip mongering being masqueraded as news”.

"In the paper's over-zealousness to portray the leadership of the ANC in general, and the Deputy Secretary General in particular, as collaborators to fit the fictitious narrative of a Gupta-controlled country, the Sunday Times . . .  presents as fact allegations, suppositions and rumours," spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

- Monday, March 14, 2016

The African National Congress tells reporters in Johannesburg it was planning on meeting Jonas regarding the allegations that the Guptas offered him a ministerial job.

The party tried to call Jonas at the weekend to get clarity, but he was out of the country, said Kodwa at the time.

"We make an effort to call that person to say please explain to us what is in the news, because we don't want to spin something we don't know as communicators of the ANC.

"We wanted to have a meeting with him. There are a number of issues we want to understand from him."

The ANC head of policy said the ANC top six officials had met with the Gupta family and a report back on that meeting was expected at the upcoming national executive meeting.

Following the ANC's claim that the reports were "gossip", Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko said the newspaper stood by its story.

The Treasury took the opportunity, before Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan addressed reporters on his investor roadshow to the United Kingdom and United States, to deny that any of its senior staff were the Sunday Times sources.

But Gordhan on Monday could not escape the questions about his deputy and the alleged meeting with the Guptas.

Gordhan said he had "no personal knowledge" of the meeting or the offer made to Jonas.

- Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The ANC announced that it was lodging a complaint with the Press Ombudsman about a Sunday Times report alleging the Guptas family tried to influence the appointment of the country’s finance minister.

"We remain convinced that the story sought to undermine the authority of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Comrade Jacob Zuma and impugn the reputation of the DSG by entrenching a narrative of an ANC leadership controlled by the Gupta family," Kodwa said in a statement.

The ANC and Duarte lodged the complaint. They demanded that the Sunday Times apologise.

A few hours after this, news comes to light that a former ANC MP and parliamentary caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor is alleging on social media that the Guptas offered her a Cabinet position in 2010.

Mentor made the allegation in response to Democratic Alliance member Johann Abrie's post on Monday about the Guptas offering deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas the job of finance minister before Nhlanhla Nene was removed.

She wrote: "But they had previously asked me to become Minister of Public Enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them. I refused and so I was never made a Minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld. [sic]"

However, the presidency came out in a statement saying Zuma had "no recollection" of Mentor.

"He is therefore unable to comment on any alleged incident in her career," presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said.

The Guptas also once again denied meeting Mentor or offering her job.

"Facebook is not the appropriate forum to air such a complaint, and we can only assume it is an attempt to gain personal profile and media attention. We challenge Vytjie Mentor to file an affidavit," the family said.

"We have every faith that if anybody tried to abuse power around appointments, they would be rebuffed by our constitution and our strong political leadership."

- Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Jonas says he can no longer keep quiet and confirms to the country that the Gupta family had offered him the job of finance minister.

"Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then-Minister Nene," he said in a statement.

"I rejected this out of hand. The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the President of the Republic appoints ministers."

Jonas, however, denied that Duarte approached him.

"Let me also place it on record that there was no discussion between the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Ms Jessie Duarte and myself on this matter," he said.

Despite this confirmation, the Gupta family has continued to deny that such a meeting took place, accusing Jonas of lying.

"These latest allegations are just more political point scoring between rival factions within the ANC. To be clear: any suggestion that the Gupta family or any of our representatives or associates have offered anyone a job in government is totally false."

The family told Jonas to file an affidavit under oath to prove that the meeting took place. This echoed its stance about claims made by Mentor.

"Minister Jonas is attempting to cover up and divert attention away from his own relationships and practices. We are confident questions about his own ethical standards will be exposed.

"We will not provide any further running commentary on what is now just a politically-motivated campaign against us."

The ANC came out against the family, saying their "balance sheet" did not allow them to promise Cabinet jobs.

"The confirmation that the Gupta family... unelected as they are, they offer people ministerial positions including replacements... is an issue of serious concern because it erodes the authority and credibility of the authority of the president, that of government and the leadership of the African National Congress," said Kodwa.

"The ANC must act decisively to send a very unambiguous and clear message that it won't allow its government including leadership of the ANC to be influenced by any individual regardless of their balance sheet."

Opposition parties have called for the Gupta family and their ties to Zuma to be investigated either by a parliamentary ad hoc committee or a judicial inquiry.

- Thursday, March 17, 2016

There has been no communication from the Presidency since Jonas's confirmation. Zuma is expected to be in Parliament on Thursday for a question and answer session in the National Assembly.

Read more on:    anc  |  mcebisi jonas  |  gupta family  |  politics

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