President Jacob Zuma has dismissed as unfounded claims by former African National Congress (ANC) member of parliament Vytjie Mentor that she travelled with him on a state visit to China in 2010.
In a statement released late Tuesday night, the Presidency said it “refutes the misleading media reports stating that the former ANC MP, Ms Vytjie Mentor ‘accompanied’ President Jacob Zuma on a state visit to China in 2010”.
On Tuesday Mentor claimed on social media that she had been offered a job as a minister by the President’s friends, the Gupta family, provided she was prepared to “give them” a route to India that was being operated by South Africa Airways.
Mentor’s post on Facebook, which has since been deleted said: “But they had previously asked me to become minister of public enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give to them. I refused and so I was never made a minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld [sic]”.
The Guptas have denied the claim and have dared Mentor to make the submission in a signed affidavit.
The Presidency said Zuma “has no recollection” of the former MP.
“Ms Mentor was definitely not part of the official delegation to the People’s Republic of China, should she have travelled to the country during the State Visit,” said the Presidency. “By stating that Ms Mentor ‘accompanied’ President Zuma on a state visit to China, the media gives the public an incorrect impression of a status similar to that of ministers or deputy ministers who receive direct formal invitations from the President to accompany him on state visits, and who then join him on all official engagements during the visit as members of the official delegation.”
The Presidency reiterates that the “President has no recollection of Ms Mentor and is not aware of the alleged incidents in her career that she has reportedly written about on social media”.
Zuma’s excuse ‘won’t cut it’, says DA
Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Zuma’s “angazi (I don’t know)” response was an insult to South Africans.
Natasha Mazzone, MP and DA spokesperson of Public Enterprises, said Mentor served as the chairperson of the ANC caucus from 2004 to 2008 and would have worked with Zuma in the Fourth Parliament in his capacity of deputy president and leader of government business.
“Given the seriousness of the allegation, the President’s response is insulting to all South Africans who have witnessed Zuma and the Guptas capture the state apparatus for their personal gain,” said Mazzone.
“South Africans deserve more than President ‘Angazi’s’ response. The President cannot simply pretend that Ms Mentor never existed. He must address these allegations with the seriousness they demand, and give us the answers we deserve.” – African News Agency (ANA), edited by Thalia Holmes