The alleged influence of the Gupta family on the African National Congress and government officials took centre stage at the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting in Pretoria this weekend, with the NEC eventually confirming its “full confidence” in President Jacob Zuma.
“The ANC NEC had frank and robust discussions on the serious allegations surrounding the Gupta family and its purported influence in the appointment of ministers, their deputies, and other positions in key state-owned entities in their interests,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters after the meeting.
“Such actions have no place in the ANC or its government, as they have the potential to undermine and erode the credibility and confidence of our people in the leadership of their organisation, the ANC, and its government. We reject the notion of any business or family group seeking such influence over the ANC with the contempt it deserves while also recognising the need to act to protect the integrity of our government and our organisation,” he said.
The NEC mandated party officials and the national working committee (NWC) to gather all pertinent information about the allegations to enable the ANC “to take appreciate action on this matter”.
“The ANC calls on all members who have information to approach the secretary general’s office,” said Mantashe.
A statement issued later, said the appointment of ministers and deputy ministers was the sole prerogative of the president, in line with the Constitution. “To this end, the ANC continues to confirm its full confidence in our president.”
Earlier, a small group of ANC supporters gathered outside the St Georges Hotel in Pretoria where the NEC was being held, declaring unwavering support for Zuma.
“We are here because we have seen a lot of attacks on our leaders and party. We thought that it is our duty as members of the African National Congress to come and support our organisation,” said Mbali Ncube from the ANC’s eThekwini region in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We have come to see if there is any way we can help. We just [want] to see if everything is going on well.”
The NEC meeting got underway on Friday following a turbulent week for the ruling party.
Among others, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by confirming reports that the Gupta family had approached him to take over as finance minister a few days before Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene from the post.
On Thursday, Zuma told Parliament that the Gupta family had never appointed any Cabinet minister.
“There is no minister who is here who was ever appointed by the Guptas or by anybody else,” he told the National Assembly.
Also this week, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor said Zuma was present several years ago when the Guptas offered her the post of public enterprises minister, held at the time by Barbara Hogan.
On Sunday, the Sunday Times reported that former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) CEO Themba Maseko had directly implicated Zuma in a push to give government business to the Gupta family.
The newspaper reported that Maseko was called by Zuma prior to a meeting with the Guptas in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and asked to “help them”.
At the meeting, Ajay Gupta wanted government advertising to be channelled to The New Age newspaper. Gupta also reportedly said: “… tell us where the money is and tell departments to give you money; if they refuse we will deal with them. If you have a problem with any department, we will summon ministers here.”IOL