Fri Dec 09 07:46:40 CAT 2016

Treasury denies its officials leaked Duarte-Jonas assertions

TMG Digital | 2016-03-14 14:21:13.0
Atul Gupta at his mansion in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. File photo.
Image by: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The National Treasury said on Monday it would take action against any of its officials proven to be involved in a news report alleging political manoeuvring in the appointment of a new finance minister.

The threat comes as editor Bongani Siqoko said: “The Sunday Times stands by its story”.

Siqoko said that every person mentioned in the front page report “was given an opportunity to tell us his or her side of the story”.

The Treasury statement said it refuted that any of its senior officials were the source of a Sunday Times story “that insinuates that the Deputy Secretary General of the African National Congress Ms Jessie Duarte‚ offered the Deputy Minister of Finance Mr Mcebisi Jonas‚ the finance minister position”.

“It is concerning that the Sunday Times regularly relies on unnamed sources and faceless people to spread rumours and give credence to their stories. This is an issue we have raised previously with the publication to no avail. We challenge the Sunday Times to back up their claim and provide proof of such a source.

“Should such proof be provided‚ appropriate action against such officials will be taken.”

Earlier on Monday‚ African National Congress spokeperson Zizi Kodwa said that Duarte “will further seek legal advice on her options with regards to the lies being peddled about her by the paper”.

He told Radio 702: “The mention of the name of deputy secretary-general was nothing but a way to legitimise the gossip.”

He said the party would also like answers from Jonas on the allegations: “We’d like to hear from him exactly what transpired‚ whether there is proof in the allegation of the meeting.”

Cope’s Dennis Bloem challenged Duarte and Jonas – as well as ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe – “to break their silence and tell the country the whole truth”.

Bloem said Jonas in particular “must under oath tell whether or not he met with the Gupta brothers in November 2015”.

“It will be in the best interest of the country. It will be better sooner rather than later for the truth to come out‚” he said.

The Gupta family had‚ on Sunday‚ issued a statement to say “there was no meeting at all” and that it challenges “the faceless purveyors of these lies to provide evidence of any of these allegations”.

The Sunday Times reported that shortly after Jonas turned the Guptas down‚ his superior Nhlanhla Nene was axed by Zuma and replaced by unknown Des van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen was quickly replaced after markets showed their displeasure with his appointment‚ and made way for Pravin Gordhan‚ who is due to speak at the JSE on Monday afternoon about his investor roadshow in the US and Europe.

The reports of the Guptas offering the job to Jonas first emerged in the London-based Financial Times last week.

The Guptas said through an attorney on Sunday: “There have been an extraordinary number of allegations around the Gupta family in recent weeks‚ several of which have involved the finance ministry.

“As we have said countless times‚ our primary focus is on business‚ not politics. To be absolutely clear: there was no meeting at all‚ let alone any inferences or cash offers.”

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