Jonas's claims 'totally false', say Guptas

Atul Gupta. Picture: James Oatway (Gallo Images)

Atul Gupta. Picture: James Oatway (Gallo Images)

The Guptas say Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas's claims that they offered him the position of Finance Minister are "totally false".

Now the Gupta family have challenged Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas to provide evidence that they had offered to promote him to the country’s finance minister.

Their company, Oakbay Investments, issued a statement shortly after Jonas publicly confirmed the offer on Wednesday. 

A Gupta family spokesperson said: “These latest allegations are just more political point scoring between rival factions within the ANC. To be clear: any suggestion that the Gupta family or any of our representatives or associates have offered anyone a job in government is totally false. 

“We challenge Minister Jonas to provide a full account of the supposed meeting that took place, under oath, in a court of law. Minister Jonas is attempting to cover up and divert attention away from his own relationships and practices. We are confident questions about his own ethical standards will be exposed.” 

“We will not provide any further running commentary on what is now just a politically-motivated campaign against us.”

The family’s response came shortly after Jonas released a statement in response to a report on the offer published in the Sunday Times last weekend. Said Jonas: “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.” The Sunday Times reported this weekend that the Gupta family had offered Jonas the post of finance minister in November. Nhlanhla Nene was axed from the same post on December 9 and replaced by little known ANC MP Des Van Rooyen. President Jacob Zuma was forced to replace Van Rooyen by appointing Pravin Gordhan a few days later, after the Rand went into free-fall and there was an outcry by business and the wider public.

In the statement Jonas clarified that he did not had discussions with the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC, Jessie Duarte, about replacing Nene. “I have hesitated to speak out publicly on this matter until now, but I feel it is no longer possible to remain quiet,” Jonas said. “Of primary concern to me is that this issue has a real danger of diverting attention away from the real and urgent challenges we face as a country.” 

The revelation comes at a time when there is a growing outcry, from within the ANC in particular, over the influence the Gupta family is believed to have over the Zuma administration. 

Former MP Vytjie Mentor added fuel to this fire earlier this week after she made allegations that Gupta representatives had offered her the post of minister of public enterprises after Barbara Hogan was removed from the post. After Jonas’ statement was released Mentor said on her Facebook page “Viva cde. Mcebisi Jonas! The truth shall set us free!”

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