Fana Hlongwane denies bribe was offered to Mcebisi Jonas at Gupta meeting
Arms deal adviser says he mandated Duduzane Zuma to set up meeting to clear rumours over blackmail allegations
ANC member and arms deal adviser Fana Hlongwane has denied that a bribe was offered to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas during their meeting with Duduzane Zuma
Hlongwane, who appeared before the commission on Wednesday, made quick work of questions relating to a meeting between himself, Jonas and former president Jacob Zuma’s son at the Gupta family’s Saxonwold home in 2015.
Jonas previously alleged that he was taken from the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank by Duduzane Zuma to the Guptas’ nearby compound on December 23, 2015 for the meeting. It was at this meeting that Jonas was allegedly offered the job of finance minister, plus a R600m bribe by the Gupta family — apparently in exchange for doing the family’s bidding once he took office.
When Duduzane Zuma appeared before the commission in October, he conceded that he had arranged the meeting between Jonas and Hlongwane, and drove Jonas to the Gupta compound. Asked why he was taken to the Gupta family’s home, Zuma said it was a matter of a “proximity and a time-frame issue”. He maintained that there was nothing wrong in doing so.
Hlongwane said on Wednesday that he asked Duduzane Zuma to set up the meeting, and denied that he had spread rumours about Jonas at the time.
“Zuma was highlighting to me that he had been hearing rumours that I was allegedly blackmailing Jonas. He mentioned it several times on different occasions. I did not take up the matter at the time because I thought it improbable because of the relationship I had with Jonas,” he said.
He told Duduzane Zuma that he wanted to confront the issue in Jonas’s presence and the meeting was arranged.
Hlongwane said the hotel was too public a meeting venue.
“The Hyatt was a problem for me. I called Zuma. I said, ‘Let us find a private venue for this meeting.’ In the same telephone conversation, I spoke to Jonas. He ascertained a venue which was both a business venue and a residence. We went to that venue and the meeting duly took place,” he said.
“I had my own issues in my mind, so I needed to clear the air — and points were duly raised. Jonas’s response was that he does not have a recollection of ever having said that. It was not a long meeting ... essentially that was it.”
Hlongwane said he could not remember whether he had been to the Gupta family’s Saxonwold residence before that day. He could also not recall the specifics of the rumours that he had allegedly spread about Jonas.