Van Rooyen sings the Teflon Don's praises: 'Zuma is a hero'

History shall remember these moments differently, says Des van Rooyen (left). (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)

History shall remember these moments differently, says Des van Rooyen (left). (Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg)

Appearing undeterred by being caught this weekend for having allegedly lied, Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen spoke warmly of President Jacob Zuma being a “hero”.

He commended Zuma at the Indigenous and Traditional LeadersiIndaba in Boksburg, Gauteng. It was under his guidance that antiretrovirals were rolled out and that traditional leaders had seen greater respect, said Van Rooyen, who is known to be a staunch Zuma supporter.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I guarantee you, when real history is told – not the distorted history that is peddled today in the public discourse – this is the president who will be remembered for bringing hope to millions of our citizens,” Van Rooyen said.

The minister, in his comments of a “distorted history” being currently shared, seemed to suggest that reports of Zuma and the Gupta family’s involvement in state capture may be false. 

Van Rooyen has not denied of the allegations against him linked to his ties with the wealthy, politically connected family.

Emails revealing the extent of the Gupta’s influence in South Africa implicated Van Rooyen as being a patron of the family. The emails, which were seen by the Sunday Times and City Press, stated that the Guptas paid the bill for Van Rooyen’s trip to Dubai shortly after he became finance minister in 2015. Van Rooyen had previously said he paid for the trip, but has yet to respond fully to the allegations in the emails.

The emails detail a reservation booking for him - and sent from the exclusive Oberoi Hotel in Dubai to Sahara chief executive Ashu Chawla - made under the Gupta-owned company’s name. Van Rooyen was also chauffeur-driven in a Jaguar XJ L upon his arrival in Dubai.

In response to the allegations, Van Rooyen released a statement on Sunday saying that the matter was sub judice and he could not comment. Although Zuma has taken the public protector’s report on state capture to court for review, these emails were not published in the report and therefore do not form part of Zuma’s application.

The allegations have not hindered Van Rooyen’s public support for Zuma. Despite increasing criticism of Zuma loyalists in the ANC, the minister continues to sing the president’s praises.

“He has made it his life duty to struggle for the poorest of the poor. He’s a hero of the masses,” Van Rooyen said.

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