Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday said he has no personal knowledge about an alleged meeting held between his deputy Mcebisi Jonas and the Guptas.
“There is nothing I can tell you,” he told reporters in Johannesburg in reaction to questions on reports that the Gupta family and Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Jesse Duarte offered Jonas the top job ahead of 9/12.
Gordhan previously told City Press that he had never spoken to or met with the Guptas.
The minister was briefing the media in a feedback session on South Africa’s roadshow to appease investors in the UK and the US as South Africa faces a possible downgrade. Moody’s placed South Africa on intense watch last week for a possible downgrade to one notch above junk status.
Jonas was not present at the briefing.
“You have addressed the question, while I was away, with Treasury, [and] you have a response on the record. If there is anything further to add, we will let you know.”
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that the Guptas, who are said to have close ties with President Jacob Zuma and other ANC leaders, offered Jonas the ministry’s top job before Nhlanhla Nene was removed.
However, Jonas reportedly turned them down.
It also reported that the president’s son Duduzane was present at a meeting at a Sandton hotel in November. The newspaper further alleged that Jonas was again offered this position a few days later by Duarte.
Earlier, Treasury strongly denied that any of its senior officials could have been the source of a report in the Sunday Times.
Gordhan on Monday reiterated Treasury’s stance on the issue.
“We know nothing about that and in any event, so-called senior officials are not required to enter into the political terrain on these sorts of matters and if we do find out that somebody crossed the line, we will deal with that.”