Pravin Gordhan says he had no ‘direct meetings’ with the Guptas
The EFF has accused the public enterprises minister of deliberately lying to MPs after he said he had not had a meeting with the Gupta brothers
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has said he is ‘‘not for sale’’ and has never had direct one-on-one meetings with the Gupta family.
The EFF has accused Gordhan of deliberately lying to parliament after he said, in a parliamentary answer, that he had not had a meeting with the Gupta brothers. But following this, in his submission to the state capture inquiry, he said he was reminded of a meeting regarding an MTN transaction where Ajay Gupta was present.
The EFF has been protesting outside the inquiry, calling on Gordhan to resign as minister.
Gordhan, however, told the state capture inquiry on Tuesday that he was not trying to hide anything but did not remember Ajay Gupta being present at the meeting in 2010.
‘‘It's not hiding, it's giving no cognisance to that fact,’’ he told the commission.
He said following the leak of his submission to the inquiry the matter had been trivialised to ‘‘have you met the Guptas or not’’ and not ‘‘what did you do for them’’.
‘‘Interactions were trivial in the bigger context. I don't want to talk about [the] relationship because there was no such relationship,’’ Gordhan said.
He said there was never a one-on-one meeting and at times he happened to be in the same place as the Guptas, such as cricket matches or government events.
Gordhan also said that he had never been to the Saxonwold compound, nor did he attend the Guptas’ Sun City wedding.
‘‘I’m not for sale. There were repeated efforts to try meet me or get me in a meeting, which my office turned down. At no stage would I have entertained a meeting directly with the Guptas,’’ he said.
‘‘I refused to schedule meetings with the Gupta family whether at their residence or somewhere else.’’
He said his actions were proof about his attitude towards the family. This included the cancellation of the 2016 post-budget business breakfast sponsored by Gupta-owned The New Age newspaper, his refusal by himself and the Treasury to have any part of former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane’s attempt to intervene in the closing of the Guptas’ bank accounts, and his refusal to sign off on Denel Asia.
‘‘Finally, I reiterate that I am not for sale to anybody,’’ Gordhan said.