‘We’ll fix you up’ – Guptas reportedly told Jonas
“We’ll fix you up” is reportedly what the Guptas told deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas when they offered him the position as minister of finance to replace Nhlanhla Nene.
City Press has revealed some of the details of the meeting at the Gupta family mansion in Saxonwold on November 27 last year.
"The old man wants to make you finance minister‚" City Press quoted the Guptas as telling Jonas.
He had first been invited to a coffee date with Duduzane Zuma who acted as the family's emissary ahead of Nhlanhla Nene's axing on December 9. Zuma Junior had asked Jonas if he could meet with presidential emissaries. Curious‚ he agreed.
A stunned Jonas listened as two of the Gupta brothers told him that if he agreed to "work with us"‚ he would be enriched‚ the newspaper reported.
"We'll fix you up‚" he was told. The family said they would provide staff for him‚ and that he should get rid of certain senior Treasury staff who the Sunday Times named as director general Fuzile Lungisa‚ tax and financial sector policy head Ismail Momoniat‚ technical advisory sector head Andrew Donaldson‚ and chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown.
City Press met Jonas three weeks ago. He confirmed the information the newspaper had from three sources which was that he had received the approach from the Guptas. However the newspaper said it could not publish until he spoke out on record which he had now done.
Jonas admitted on Wednesday evening that Guptas had offered him the finance portfolio but said he rejected the offer 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‚” Jonas said in a statement.
He also said he wished to place on record that there was no discussion between the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Ms Jessie Duarte and himself on this matter.
“I have hesitated to speak out publicly on this matter until now‚ but I feel it is no longer possible to remain quiet. 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‚” Jonas said.
He added that he was committed to good governance‚ abiding by the constitution of the country and being accountable to its people “who repeatedly express their confidence and trust in us‚ election after election”.
Former ANC Mp Vygie Mentor this week also admitted to having been approached by the Guptas to take up the Ministry of Public Enterprises. She said in a Facebook post that the family had made the offer while President Jacob Zuma was in the room next door.
The Presidency meanwhile moved to deny the accusations‚ saying the President had no recollection of who Mentor was.
Claims have also been made‚ by among others‚ EFF leader Julius Malema‚ that Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was told of his appointment as minister by the Gupta family.