Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has confirmed that the Gupta family offered him the role of Finance Minister – an offer which he said he outright rejected.
In a statement released on Wednesday (16 March), the deputy minister said that he hesitated to speak out publicly on this matter until now, but felt it is no longer
possible to remain quiet.
“Let me state the facts on the matter of whether I was approached by nongovernmental individuals in respect of the position of Minister of Finance,” he said.
“Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then-Minister Nene. 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.”
“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.
Jonas said that the real concern was that this issue is in danger of diverting attention away from the “real and urgent” challenges faced by the country.
“I remain confident that the challenges that we face as a nation will be overcome if we collectively use our efforts for the benefit of all. I am resolute in playing my part in preserving the integrity of National Treasury as an institution in my capacity as Deputy Minister,” he said.
State capture claims
Jonas’ revelations fly in the face of denials by the Gupta family that any meeting took place.
Responding to reports by the Sunday Times that the politically connected family had offered the top finance job to Jonas, Attul Gupta outright denied that anything of the sort took place.
“We are business people and we have nothing to do with politics,” Gupta said.
“It’s rubbish, completely rubbish…These are all rumours and you cannot give a reply to the rumours. You cannot justify it.”
Following the reports, ANC policy head Jeff Radebe revealed that about six top ANC officials met with the Gupta family in the preceding weeks.
Former ANC parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor also came forward with a claim that the Gupta family had offered her the position of Minister of Public Enterprises, “provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them”.
In all cases, president Jacob Zuma – whom the Gupta family is tied to through his son Duduzane – has denied any wrongdoing, even going as far as saying he has no idea who Mentor is.