Gupta brothers are not my friends: Mbeki

11 April 2016 - 18:30 By TMG Digital

Former president Thabo Mbeki distanced himself from the Gupta family‚ whose friendship with current president Jacob Zuma is under investigation following assertions by senior politicians that they tried to influence Cabinet Minister appointments. He also lashed out at people who lied to cover their own actions.Thabo Mbeki's full letter on Zuma, Nkandla and the Constitutional CourtDespite not wanting to engage in “gutter” politics‚ Mbeki said he was forced to speak out after inferences made in public following discussions between the Ex-Political Prisoners Association and President Zuma last week.Elect a president who is capable and upholds the law‚ Mbeki saysMbeki stated he had not introduced any of the Guptas to Zuma‚ nor did he appoint a member of the family to serve as an economic adviser.A statement‚ issued by The Thabo Mbeki Foundation‚ read: “In the last three weeks‚ we have noted news reports attributable to various persons claiming some link between former President Thabo Mbeki and the Gupta family”. “We have agonised about this matter‚ avoiding to respond and thus descend to the lower depths to which the allegation desperately attaches. “Our honest and sustained attempt to avoid the gutter were nonetheless severely tested and strained” by remarks broadcast on television on Sunday by Mpho Masemola‚ a representative of the Ex-Political Prisoners Association.“Mr Masemola takes the public into confidence about discussions between the Ex-Political Prisoners Association and President Jacob Zuma last week. He deploys innuendo in order to socialise accountability for an individual’s ethical judgement. “For the record‚ President Thabo Mbeki did not at any point introduce the Gupta family to President Zuma. “Even if it were true that President Mbeki had introduced the Gupta family to President Zuma‚ unless it is alleged and proven that he did so with an improper motive‚ he would not be held responsible for whatever may or may not have transpired thereafter between President Zuma and the Gupta family. For Mr. Masemola to suggest otherwise is in fact to accuse President Zuma of lacking the capacity to make his own ethical judgements.” The foundation also rejected reports that a member of the Gupta family served as an economic advisor to then-president Mbeki. “This too is false! No member of the Gupta family ever served in any economic advisory body during the time when President Mbeki served as Head of State.”Ajay Gupta did‚ however‚ serve on the International Marketing Council board (now Brand SA)‚ on the recommendation of a Mbeki ally - the then Minister in The Presidency‚ Essop Pahad.Essop Pahad, Guptas sever business tiesMbeki’s foundation said Pahad had “rightly or wrongly thought that he (Ajay Gupta) had the skills‚ knowledge and capacity to facilitate the work of the Council – not because of his alleged proximity to the President”.As the IMC board reported to Pahad‚ questions about this should be referred to him‚ the foundation said.Masemola told eNCA: “The Gupta family has not come with Jacob Zuma. The Gupta family was introduced to Jacob Zuma by Thabo Mbeki and Essop Pahad. Actually‚ we were shocked to hear that … those words coming from the President. People are making noises now as if the President has been‚ you know‚ clinging to the Gupta family etc. It’s not like that. Why Thabo Mbeki is keeping quiet? Why Essop Pahad is keeping quiet because we know that for the fact that the Gupta family is staying within‚ he’s staying in the same region with the Gupta family‚ Essop Pahad. In India. Yes. We know that.”Lashing out against “falsehoods” about Mbeki’s tenure as president‚ the foundation referred to when Zuma and his allies had claimed a political conspiracy was behind attempts to investigate his role in the controversial arms deal.“When he commented on the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in the matter between the ‘National Director of Public Prosecutions v Zuma’ on January 13‚ 2009‚ President Mbeki made‚ among others‚ the following observations: ‘It seems to me that the unacceptable practice of propagation of deliberate falsehoods to attain various objectives is becoming entrenched in our country. I am pleased that the SCA has provided firm leadership in this regard by insisting that nobody's integrity should be impugned on the basis of untested allegations’.” “Three months ago‚ on January 10‚ President Mbeki began publishing a series of articles intended precisely to address various falsehoods that have been perpetuated over many years. And now once again enters Mr. Masemola!”

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