Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe yesterday called into question the credibility of his finance department counterpart Mcebisi Jonas’s statement that the Gupta family offered him a Cabinet position.
On March 16, Jonas confirmed a Sunday Times newspaper report suggesting the Guptas had offered him the position of finance minister in December last year.
But Maphatsoe said Jonas had told him on March 10, just days before the story was published, that he had never met the Guptas and that they had not offered him the job.
He said Jonas told him this when they were travelling together on a plane from Cape Town to Johannesburg because, according to Jonas, a media report on the matter was imminent.
“He told me there was something that would come out in the media about the Guptas and insisted he had never met that family,” said Maphatsoe.
“I believed him because he is my comrade. I was surprised when I saw his statement in which he confirmed he was offered the job by the Guptas. He is not a man of integrity and cannot be trusted in the National Treasury.”
Jonas’s revelation came after former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor announced that the Guptas had offered her the job of public enterprises minister.
Former Government Communications and Information System CEO Themba Maseko has also implicated President Jacob Zuma in another allegation related to the acquisition of government advertising by The New Age newspaper, which is owned by the Guptas.
The alleged state capture by the Guptas led to calls for Zuma to resign and for the public protector to investigate the close relationship between him and the Guptas.
Maphatsoe defended the Guptas, asking why Mentor and Maseko had kept quiet about the matter and chose to drop their bombshells only two weeks ago.
“The Guptas are working hard to make their money,” he said.
“We want to learn from them how to make money. People should not focus on the Guptas but on the economy of this country.”
Chief director of communications in the National Treasury Phumza Macanda said there would be no comment in response to an enquiry sent to her for Jonas.
Maseko and Mentor could not be reached for comment.