“I have had no direct one on one meetings with the Guptas and I hope the media gets this clearly,”
“I have never been to Saxonwold or looked for the shebeen. I have never been to the wedding.”
These were words of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who stuck to his guns in denying that he never had a relationship with the Gupta family or attended meetings with them in the past.
Gordhan was testifying at the Zondo commission yesterday.
He told commission chair deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo how he fought off efforts by the Gupta family who requested to meet him on various occasions and even sought to invite him to their Gupta compound in Saxonwold.
“There was no such relationship with the Guptas. There was no meeting where two people sit and transact and back to back conversations taking place. I am not for sale,” Gordhan told the inquiry as he has been accused by the EFF of lying to Parliament about his meeting with the Gupta family.
“According to my office, there were some repeated efforts to arrange meetings with me or to get me into a meeting and all of which the office turned down or if I was informed about it, I turned down. At no stage have I entertained a meeting directly with the Guptas.
“I have never been to Saxonwold or looked for the shebeen. I have never been to the wedding and did not take any consideration for the invitation.
“I have had no direct one on one meetings with the Guptas and I hope the media gets this clearly,” he said.
The minister said the only place he saw the Guptas was at public events and he never interacted with them on those occasions. “Yes, I have seen them at cricket matches on occasions. There were these post-TNA (The New Age) Sona breakfast briefings and we were required to attend to support the president,” said Gordhan.
Gordhan said as finance minister he had a meeting with an Indian businessman, Ambani, who was interested in doing business in South Africa.
He said he had forgotten the particulars about the meeting and has been reminded by his former chief of staff Dondo Mogajane that one of the Gupta brothers was present at the meeting.
“I have had meetings with Ambani who is a business person and a billionaire from India who runs a communication company. The reason I agreed to meet with him was that he could be a potential investor. A Gupta, according to Mogajane was present. The meeting ended inconclusively and we parted ways and left. It lasted for an hour,” he said.
The inquiry continues.