ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine has for the first time admitted to meeting the controversial Gupta family.
Maine – a known supporter of former president Jacob Zuma before the ANC conference at Nasrec in December – said he was not taken to the Guptas by Zuma whose widely publicised relationship with the infamous family contributed to him having to step down as president.
City Press has seen a video recording of Maine speaking at a memorial service of late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, which was also attended by National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise in Potchefstroom on Tuesday.
In the video, a solemn-faced Maine said he was taken to the Guptas by North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.
City Press understands that Maine has now gone back to supporting President Cyril Ramaphosa after the party’s Nasrec conference, although he had publicly pronounced his support for rival candidate Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma before.
He is now known to be working closely with those fighting for the removal of Mahumapelo as premier.
Maine has previously denied any “personal” relations with the Guptas.
This week, however, he seemed to regret ever meeting the Guptas, although he did not say if any wrong had come out of their meeting.
The Guptas have fled the country amid a spate of allegations on how they made their money through political connections and irregularities.
On Tuesday, Maine was close to accusing his own party of neglecting Madikizela-Mandela.
“I know we don’t join the ANC for material things but not Winnie Mandela, please comrades; the ANC must take care of its own,” Maine said.
Before that, the youth leader said he had been to Madikizela-Mandela’s house and “was close to tears ... it can’t be somebody who contributed like she did...”.
Suddenly, he started speaking about the Guptas. “Mam’ Winnie never went to the Guptas like some of us did ... and we did not take ourselves there, we were taken to the Guptas. She never wanted to do that because she remained true to the ANC,” Maine said.
“I was taken there comrades ... in the first place I was not supposed to go there (to the Guptas). I was not taken by Zuma, the person who took me there was Supra Obakeng Mahumapelo.”
He said this to loud cheers by those in attendance.
Maine said the ANC must not be part of any of his doings.
“If my going there (to the Guptas) means that at some point I must appear in court, don’t follow me ... you never said I must go there. Take the ANC out of that,” he said with a serious expression.
“Don’t follow me if I must go to court, I went there (to the Guptas) on my own. We rather as individuals face the consequences of our actions, not the ANC.”
In February 2016, Maine was quoted as saying “an attack on the Guptas is an attack on the ANC”.
But this time he said the governing party should not be linked to the Guptas.
“The ANC must stay clean like pure white milk ... it must focus on the people’s interests and not our own individual interests,” he said.
Maine added: “In the spirit of Mam’ Winnie we must stand up and say ‘no wrong shall be done in my name’. I know it is difficult. I know you are used to being given money. Don’t do it. Leave the money and take the ANC in your hands.”
“I am not proud of myself. We can say this publicly because we’re not afraid of anything. If anything happens it is fine but the ANC will not disappear with me.”
Meanwhile, Mahumapelo’s spokesperson Brian Setswambung said the premier has chosen not to respond to Maine to “afford Mama Madikizela-Mandela a dignified burial without controversy”.
Maine did not respond to an SMS and Whatsapp message sent to him regarding his statements.
Full video below: