Mbeki denies links to the Guptas

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Polokwane in 2007. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma at the ANC conference in Polokwane in 2007. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation released a statement on Monday denying that the former president had any links to the Gupta family. 

“In the last three weeks, we have noted news reports attributable to various persons claiming some link between former President Thabo Mbeki and the Gupta family,” the statement read.

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation said in a statement that while it had attempting to “avoid the gutter” by refusing to comment on these allegations, it was now time to speak out. 

On Sunday the City Press reported that Nazeem Howa, spokesperson for the Gupta family’s business interests and the CEO of Oakbay Investments and its media businesses, said that Gupta brother Ajay “befriended” three South African presidents. These were, according to the City Press, Thabo Mbeki, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma.

The City Press futher quoted Howa as saying that Ajay Gupta considered himself closest to Mbeki, who had included him in his advisory council and appointed him to the International Marketing Council.

The statement addressed this allegation: “We have also noted reports which claim that a member of the Gupta family served as an economic advisor to President Mbeki. This too is false!”

The Thabo Mbeki Foundation further said that no member of the Gupta family ever served in any economic advisory body while Mbeki was president. However, the statement does confirm that Ajay Gupta did in fact serve on the International Marketing Council.   

“Mr Ajay Gupta joined the board of the then IMC by agreement of the board on the recommendation of then Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad, who rightly or wrongly thought that he [Ajay Gupta] had the skills, knowledge and capacity to facilitate the work of the Council – not because of his alleged proximity to the President.”

The IMC board reported to Pahad, the statement said. “Former minister Pahad can further elaborate on the matter,” it added.

The Foundation further identified a report by eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) that alleged that Mbeki introduced the Guptas to Zuma.

“For the record, President Thabo Mbeki did not at any point introduce the Gupta family to President Zuma,” the foundation said in the statement.

“Even if it were true that President Mbeki had introduced the Gupta family to President Zuma, unless it is alleged and proven that he did so with an improper motive, he would not be held responsible for whatever may or may not have transpired thereafter between President Zuma and the Gupta family.”

 

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