Breaking bread with the Guptas: The top brass who have mingled with the controversial family
On Monday, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirmed that she has also dined with the Gupta family, adding to the growing list of officials who have shared details of time spent at the family's Saxonwold compound.
Responding to questions from the Democratic Alliance via a written statement to Parliament, Dlamini-Zuma admitted that on several official government meetings that she had attended, Ajay Gupta was also present.
The meetings happened while she held the position of foreign affairs minister from 1999 to 2009.
Dlamini-Zuma also dined with the Guptas when the family celebrated Diwali. She denied being influenced by the family.
This year has seen several prominent figures admitting to breaking bread with the Guptas.
While testifying at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene came clean about his meetings in Saxonwold.
He insisted that the Guptas had not asked him to do anything to benefit them.
Nene said he visited the Gupta home on four occasions during his tenure as deputy finance minister.
"I regarded the visits as one of my tasks as deputy minister to engage with different stakeholders in the economy."
Though Nene apologised for previously withholding details of his meetings with the Guptas, pressure mounted on him to resign.
A few days after his testimony, he vacated the office of finance minister, making way for current finance minister Tito Mboweni.
Former DA leader Helen Zille chose Twitter to confess her Gupta experience.
1) I met the Guptas, long before their role became controversial, at a fundraising appointment to raise money from Sahara Computers for the DA. As I got off the plane from Cape Town I learnt the venue had been switched from their offices to their home. I went, unsuspecting.— Helen Zille (@helenzille) October 6, 2018
I can't speak for Minister Nene only for myself. One can only act on information available at a particular time. And I never returned any "favours". No "strings atrached".— Helen Zille (@helenzille) October 6, 2018
One person tweeted an incident Zille might have forgotten to mention in her tweets.
Zille responded with a question.
That's rubbish. Who is considered corrupt for merely meeting people who are not yet known to be corrupt? Who?— Helen Zille (@helenzille) October 6, 2018
Regarding his interactions with the Gupta clan, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said there was nothing untoward about his meetings.
"My work involves frequent interactions with a wide range of business people as well as actual or potential investors."
The DA also demanded information about meetings he'd had with the family at the centre of the state capture inquiry. Davies responded: "I met with the Gupta family on a number of occasions between 2009 and 2013."
Former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba also said that when he met with Guptas, it was because his work required him to.
"As a public representative and a politician, it is my inherent role to interact with as many stakeholders as possible, to be accessible to them and to hear their perspectives."
He offered this explanation to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs during its investigation into the naturalisation of four Gupta family members.
Like Dlamini-Zuma, Gigaba didn't decline an invitation to enjoy Diwali celebrations in Saxonwold. He said he visited the family for reasons of "social cohesion" and that he "at no stage, assisted the Gupta family."
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan's statement to the state capture inquiry was among those leaked to the media last week.
In the leaked statement, Gordhan allegedly details a meeting with the Guptas. The EFF said Gordhan has previously denied being a guest at the family's home.
Subsequently, the EFF asked Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate a possible "violation of the executive ethics code" by the minister.
Gordhan is yet to testify at the commission and provide clarity on the meeting.
As the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture continues, the public remains intrigued about who else might be keeping mum about breaking bread with the Guptas.