ANC’s Jessie Duarte ‘very keen’ to appear before Zondo commission
She wants to explain the relationship between the ANC and the Guptas’ media outlets, which gave ‘the ANC unmitigated space for its views’
The governing ANC’s deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Wednesday she was "very keen" to appear before the Zondo commission into state capture to talk about her interaction with the Gupta family’s media operations.
ANN7 and The New Age, the now defunct television news station and newspaper, played an overtly factional role in the ANC’s internal battles ahead of the party’s conference in December 2017, attacking detractors of former president Jacob Zuma and putting out a narrative of a plot against Zuma engineered by supporters of "white monopoly capital".
"I’m happy to discuss meetings I had with Moegsien Williams [editor of The New Age]. I am not afraid to say that we did discuss a media that would give the ANC unmitigated space for its views … Whatever happened after that was something else," she said at a media briefing in Cape Town.
Duarte also repeated the ANC’s commitment to go to the commission of inquiry, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, to answer accusations that it had tried to strong-arm banks that had closed Gupta bank accounts.
Duarte, who took part in the meetings, said no specific clients were discussed at any point.
The party has come under public pressure to appear before the commission as the perception grows that it is the ANC that in fact should be on trial, given the involvement of its leadership in corrupt dealings with the Guptas, who are said to have used their association with Zuma to corrupt a number of vital state institutions.
Duarte said the ANC’s top six officials had decided that it must disclose the details about its meetings with the banks as these had been held in the ANC’s official capacity. The involvement of ANC leaders in dealings with the Guptas that were not on behalf of the ANC was something those individuals would have to answer themselves.
On Wednesday, the commission’s legal team applied for the postponement of the testimonies of former and current public enterprise ministers, Barbara Hogan and Pravin Gordhan, to give those implicated time to respond or to apply for cross-examination.
Hogan, whose testimony implicates the former president, will now only testify on November 12, with Gordhan to follow on November 15.