Following claims by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba last week that there was a “smear campaign” against him meant to tarnish his name, the minister’s camp is now apparently working on a detailed counter-campaign to clear public perceptions about his involvement with the Gupta family.
City Press reported at the weekend Gigaba’s supporters were working on compiling favourable evidence dating back to the time when he was public enterprises minister. The information would then be used to demonstrate that he had, on several occasions, taken decisions that were not advantageous to the controversial family’s interests and at times talked to President Jacob Zuma about his discomfort.
Gigaba and his deputy, Sfiso Buthelezi, were appointed to the finance ministry after Zuma’s shambolic midnight Cabinet reshuffle in March. The minister and his deputy face fresh allegations of state capture contained in the leaked Gupta emails, which are being investigated by the Hawks, about their close links to the family.
The damning emails allegedly show that Gigaba appointed Gupta-friendly board members in state-owned entities during his time as public enterprises minister, and abused his power as then home affairs minister to grant members of the Gupta family South African citizenship.
A close ally of the minister told City Press new evidence that is being put together in the form of a “dossier” on Gigaba would show that he had blocked the sale of the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg, supported a decision to fire an official at Broadband Infraco for giving a deal to the Guptas and that he personally played a role in firing a Gupta-linked board member at SAA.
According to the report, Gigaba had for some time been working on cutting ties with the Guptas, but he was apparently caught up in a balancing act of trying not to fall out of favour with Zuma in doing so.