Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas has responded to allegations made under oath by Ajay Gupta that he lied about being offered the position as finance minister at Saxonwold in 2015.
In an answering affidavit submitted to the courts on Friday (17 February) Jonas stuck to his story as detailed in the Public Protector’s State Capture report, and pointed out that Ajay Gupta failed to deny any relevant accusation.
According to Ajay Gupta’s court papers, he denied ever meeting Jonas, and said he was not present at any meeting with the deputy minister where he was allegedly offered the position of finance minister.
As part of his affidavit, Gupta secured a confirmatory affidavit from president Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane – who has also been implicated in the saga – stating that Gupta was not present in any meeting held with Jonas.
In his own words, Zuma wrote that “Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta was not present at any time during the meeting with Mr Jonas held on 25 October 2017 (sic).”
Along with Duduzane Zuma, another implicated person, politically connected businessman Fana Hlongwane also submitted a confirmatory affidavit saying that Ajay Gupta was not at the meeting with Jonas that day.
The problem, Jonas said, was that the alleged meeting took place on 23 October 2015 – two days before the meeting Gupta is denying he had a part in.
“Therefore‚ the absence of Mr Ajay Gupta at a meeting two days later‚ on 25 October 2015‚ fails to confirm the necessary allegation‚” he said.
Phone records published in the state capture report confirmed Jonas’s version of events – that he never communicated with Duduzane before October 2015 and that he met the president’s son at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosebank and that Duduzane later transported him to Saxonwold.
However, the records did not place Jonas at the same location as Duduzane and Hlongwane in Saxonwold.
According to Jonas, Ajay Gupta met with him at Saxonwold on 23 October and told him that the family had been watching him and his relationships with senior government officials.
Gupta said that the family wanted to increase its business holdings in South Africa from R6 billion to R8 billion and offered Jonas the position of finance minister as well as R600 million to bring business to the family.