Ajay Gupta 'offered millions' to Jonas to 'work with us'

23 October 2016 - 02:03 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA
Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas reported the alleged Gupta offer to Nhlanhla Nene.
Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas reported the alleged Gupta offer to Nhlanhla Nene.
Image: GALLO IMAGES

Ajay Gupta allegedly offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas R600,000 in cash in a black plastic bag at his family compound in Johannesburg last year, on the day he offered Jonas the job of finance minister.

Gupta also allegedly promised Jonas a further R600-million, to be paid in instalments, if he agreed to "work with us".

The explosive claim is believed to be contained in Jonas's affidavit submitted to former public protector Thuli Madonsela as evidence during her state capture investigation.

Sources close to the probe said Jonas claimed in his affidavit that "work with us" meant he was expected to push for the approval of the nuclear procurement programme, estimated to be worth R1-trillion, and fire some National Treasury officials who were critical of the programme.

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He named the officials as director-general Lungisa Fuzile, his deputies Ismail Momoniat and Andrew Donaldson, and chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown.

The sources said Jonas confirmed in the affidavit that the Gupta brother offered him then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene's job during their meeting in Saxonwold on October 23 last year. This was just six weeks before President Jacob Zuma fired Nene on December 9, replacing him with Des van Rooyen. Sunday Times confirmed that telephone records will show that Van Rooyen visited the Gupta compound the night before he was appointed.

In his affidavit, Jonas allegedly adds that Gupta made the offers in the presence of Zuma's son Duduzane and businessman Fana Hlongwane.

The Sunday Times can confirm that after leaving the Gupta compound, Jonas called Nene to inform him that he had been offered his job. Nene has given a statement to Madonsela confirming the phone call.

Jonas's allegations are believed to have been reflected in Madonsela's highly contested report on state capture.

She was due to release her report last Friday but was halted after Zuma and Van Rooyen applied for an interdict to stop her.

On Friday, Van Rooyen asked for his application to be withdrawn, claiming Madonsela had made no adverse findings against him.

Zuma's application will be heard in the High Court in Pretoria on November 1.

block_quotes_start I categorically deny there was ever a discussion or offer, by anybody, of any government position to deputy finance minister Jonas block_quotes_end

Gupta lawyer Gert van der Merwe yesterday confirmed he was in possession of Jonas's affidavit after requesting a copy during a meeting with Madonsela.

He denied that Gupta had been "in such a meeting with Jonas" and said he "has never offered the deputy finance minister anything".

Van der Merwe added: "I have a complete and comprehensive version of what happened when the deputy minister was at the Gupta compound and this version can be corroborated by witnesses who are willing to testify under oath on the contrary to Jonas's version."

Approached for comment, Hlongwane said he had told Madonsela "everything about the meeting, under oath". He declined to comment further.

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Hlongwane sent Madonsela a letter on September 29 saying Duduzane had convened a meeting with him and Jonas at the Hyatt hotel in Johannesburg because Jonas had allegedly made statements that the businessman was blackmailing him.

Hlongwane said he had "proposed we move that meeting to a private venue. All parties agreed to this." The venue was the Gupta compound.

In his letter, Hlongwane strongly denied Jonas's claims.

"During this discussion, a Gupta member entered the room briefly and then left.

"I categorically deny there was ever a discussion or offer, by anybody, of any government position to deputy finance minister Jonas. No commercial discussion took place either."

Madonsela refused to comment about the matter, saying she was no longer the public protector.

"The matter is before the court, which will decide whether the report must be released or not. Let us all respect the judiciary processes," she said.

Jonas did not respond to questions this week.

mzilikazi@sundaytimes.co.za

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