Vytjie Mentor: Jacob Zuma tried to calm me down after Gupta offer

28 August 2018 - 12:09 By Penwell Dlamini
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor looks at her papers during a break at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg on August 28 2018.
Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor looks at her papers during a break at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in Parktown, Johannesburg on August 28 2018.
Image: Masi Losi

Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor says Jacob Zuma constantly tried to calm her down after Ajay Gupta had offered her a ministerial job.

The former president walked in on her 2010 meeting with Gupta in a lounge at the family’s compound in Saxonwold‚ Johannesburg‚ Mentor told the state capture inquiry on Tuesday.

Mentor said Gupta had earlier promised her a job as a minister of public enterprises if she cancelled the South African Airways route between Johannesburg and Mumbai.

“He [Ajay] said they often put word to the president for people to become ministers‚” Mentor explained.

“By ‘we’ I understood to mean ‘they’ – the Gupta family. I did not accept the offer. I felt that he does not have authority to offer a ministerial position to me or any other person. I actually said to him: ‘It is only the president‚ in discussion with Luthuli House‚ that has authority to make people ministers.’

“He was not perturbed. That did not persuade him to abandon his offer. We had a bit of an exchange and I became agitated…I raised my voice. As I said to him: ‘You have no authority‚’ the president walked in‚” said Mentor.

She was giving evidence on Tuesday at the commission of inquiry into state capture‚ which is chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in Parktown‚ Johannesburg.

“When he [Zuma] walked in‚ I rose from my seat‚ out of respect. He greeted me while we were standing. Ajay remained seated. I told the president what Ajay had said. The president sought to calm me down. He did not address the issues that I was raising. I felt that he was finding issue with my agitation and with my anger. That further frustrated me‚” said Mentor.

“The discussion occurred while we were still standing. He continued to calm me down. I realised that he is not surprised. He is not objecting as I would have expected him. He…did not ask Ajay about the issues he had raised. His mission was to calm me down. When I realised that I was not winning‚ I decided that maybe I have to leave.”

Mentor testified that Gupta did not show the respect due to Zuma‚ as president. He greeted him while seated on a couch. Mentor said she also did not appreciate the tone Gupta used when speaking to Zuma.

She said that Zuma continued to calm her down‚ speaking mostly in Zulu. Mentor testified that Zuma helped her down the stairs when she indicated that she wanted to leave. He opened the door of the car and continued to calm her down‚ she said.

Mentor also mentioned that before Zuma arrived‚ Gupta raised an issue that involved Denel and India‚ something that was “top secret”.

After Zuma kindly helped her into the car‚ the two men who had driven her from OR Tambo International Airport drove her back there. It was around 3pm.

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