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Thu Sep 01 01:30:56 SAST 2016

Vytjie Mentor endorses Mcebisi Jonas over proclamation on Guptas

TMG Digital | 16 March, 2016 19:10
“I chaired the ANC National Parliamentary Caucus when President Zuma was a Deputy President. He sat next to me and spoke through me and with me in Caucus each Thursday when Parliament was in session. File photo
Image by: Trevor Samson

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’s confirmation on Wednesday evening that the Guptas had offered him a full Ministerial job has been endorsed by an ANC comrade who this week also publicly disclosed an overture from the wealthy family.

“Viva cde. Mcebisi Jonas! The truth shall set us free!”‚ Vytjie Mentor‚ a former African National Congress caucus chairperson and party MP‚ shared on Facebook.

Jonas‚ in a statement as well as an interview at the SABC studios in Auckland Park‚ confirmed the Guptas had met with him on November 27 and offered him former minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job.

“Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then-Minister Nene. I rejected this 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‚” he said.

Nene was removed as minister by Zuma on December 9‚ prompting unprecedented market ructions that saw the rand breach the R16 to the dollar mark.

Mentor said she was offered a job as minister of public enterprises by the Gupta family on the condition that she dropped the South African Airways flight route to India to give it to them. “I refused and so was never made a minister‚” she said. “The president was in another room when they offered this to me (at the Gupta home) in Saxonwold (Johannesburg)‚” she said.

The offer was allegedly made after Barbara Hogan was removed as minister of public enterprises‚ when Mentor was the chairperson of the public enterprises portfolio committee.

In response the Presidency issued a statement on Tuesday evening saying: “President Jacob Zuma has no recollection of Ms Mentor. He is therefore unable to comment on any alleged incident in her career.”

Mentor hit back on Wednesday morning‚ saying that she had known Zuma since his return from exile and spelled out their shared working history.

“I chaired the ANC National Parliamentary Caucus when President Zuma was a Deputy President. He sat next to me and spoke through me and with me in Caucus each Thursday when Parliament was in session.

“I sat with him in the ANC’s Political Committee each month too. He is the one who was sent by the Top 6 then to tell me that the ANC has deployed me to be the Chair of Caucus then.

“He is the one who introduced me to the ANC Caucus then as a new Chair of Caucus. I had a bi-monthly with him in his Tuynhuys Offices then.

“He knew me right from when he arrived from exile. He met me frequently on the ground in the Northern Cape on many occasions.

“I know President (Thabo) Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe will never ever say they have no recollection of me.”

She then issued a challenge to the Gupta family‚ stating: “As for the Guptas. I am not done yet‚ a lot still need to be told... will leave this here for now.”

Mentor proclaimed: “I was raised on the TRUTH‚ NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH!! I am standing where I am standing. I love South Africa too much. I am NOT ruffled. The truth shall be victorious at the end. The truth always win!‚”

said Jonas in a statement late Wednesday afternoon.

Jonas‚ however‚ denied that he had received a call from ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte also imploring on him to accept the appointment.

He said he was settling the matter “in accordance with my conscience‚ my political values and the best traditions of my organisation‚ the ANC‚ of which I have been a member since my early teens”.

Nene was removed as minister by Zuma on December 9‚ prompting unprecedented market ructions that saw the rand breach the R16 to the dollar mark for the first time in history. The recent allegations heightened speculations around the powerful Gupta’s grip on the state.

“The narrative that has grown around the issue of ‘state capture’ should be of concern to all responsible and caring South Africans‚ particularly those of us who have accepted the task to lead our people. We cannot afford to ignore the obvious impact these sentiments may have on our country and the resultant potential of undermining our moral authority‚” Jonas added.

The allegation was first published last week by the Financial Times‚ and the Sunday Times released details of the meeting where Ajay and Atul Gupta as well as Zuma’s son Duduzane were present.

Following the article the Guptas as well as the ANC denied that such a meeting took place. Spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The organisation does not and shall not outsource this function to any members of the public‚ regardless on whose authority they may claim to be acting.”

Former ANC MP Vygie Mentor this week also declared she had 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 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.

Jonas said: “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”.

“I am committed to good governance‚ abiding by the constitution of our country and being accountable to our people who repeatedly express their confidence and trust in us‚ election after election.”

He concluded with a pledge to protect the national coffers: “I remain confident that the challenges that we face as a nation will be overcome if we collectively use our efforts for the benefit of all. I am resolute in playing my part in preserving the integrity of National Treasury as an institution…”

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