By Eric Naki
There is nothing wrong with Pravin Gordhan or any other minister meeting the Gupta family – what matters is whether they had a corrupt, secret deal with them after those talks about stealing state money or offered a job by them, a political analyst says.
Somadoda Fikeni said it was highly likely the Guptas might have met the majority – if not all – Cabinet ministers and had discussions with them, because the brothers were influential and highly regarded within government circles under former president Jacob Zuma.
It was not the meeting or the discussion that was important, but what happened after that in terms of agreement and implementation.
“It is quite clear all leaders might have met the Guptas, taking their cue from the fact that Zuma had confidence in them. The thing is whether that meeting had led to a corrupt relationship between him and the Guptas,” Fikeni said.
The analyst was reacting to the leaked testimony to be presented by Gordhan to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Gordhan’s 68-page sworn statement, which had been revised, contains details of his meeting with the Guptas at the Presidential state house in Pretoria between 2009 and 2014.
This was a once-off meeting requested by Zuma, in which he introduced Ajay Gupta to Gordhan. The president said Ajay was someone with a knowledge of small businesses.
Subsequently, Gordhan came into contact with them unofficially at least three times: twice at public and government events and once at a business meeting.
The Economic Freedom Fighters latched onto these meetings, demanding Gordhan’s resignation, after Nhlanhla Nene set the tone last month.
“What Gordhan did not reveal, is that as a minister of finance, he was an accomplice to the Guptas’ activities, because they gained traction during his tenure,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“It is becoming evident that virtually everyone who served in strategic positions in Zuma’s Cabinet since 2009 were in the pockets and under the micromanagement of the Guptas – and this includes Pravin Gordhan.”
But Fikeni said a more level-headed approach was needed.
“What matters is what they do, should they discover that what they discussed was about corruption. You need to ask, did they have corrupt dealings with the Guptas? If not, there is no issue.”
“If nothing sinister happened, there is nothing to write home about.”
The analyst said the only problem would come from ministers giving contradictory statements regarding meeting the Guptas. The Citizen.