Former president Jacob Zuma has told the chair of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that he has never interacted with former African National Congress (ANC) MP Vytjie Mentor.
Zuma took the witness stand at the commission on Tuesday to deal with testimony at the inquiry which implicated him.
Mentor, in summary, had told the commission that she had been offered a ministerial position by one of the Guptas, an offer which Zuma as president at the time was allegedly aware of and had approved.
“I had no interaction with this witness, nothing,” Zuma told the commission.
Mentor also told the commission that she was removed as chair of a parliamentary committee because she had refused to meet with Zuma during a state visit to China around August 2010.
“I know nothing about it,” Zuma said.
Mentor had said the Guptas had been part of the delegation during the said state visit. However, Zuma told the commission he did not recall the family being part of a delegation on a state visit.
Zuma said he would have to check his records to confirm whether he had travelled on a state visit to China around that time because he had travelled there a number of times.
The former ANC MP also testified that her removal from the parliamentary committee was also because she had refused to assist with cancelling a South African Airways (SAA) flight to India – a move which would benefit Gupta-linked Jet Airways, according to previous testimony at the inquiry.
Mentor also testified that Ajay Gupta had knowledge of an imminent cabinet reshuffle in 2010.
Zuma confirmed that a reshuffle did take place, however, he said Gupta should have not known about it because he was not one of the people the former president consulted before reshuffling his cabinet.
“Ajay Gupta was not part of the government and he was not part of the people who might have been consulted … he shouldn’t have known [about the reshuffle],” Zuma said.
The former president said he consulted mainly the ANC’s top six leadership and that of the governing party’s alliance partners, “those individuals would know”.
Zuma said he had never been at the Gupta residence at the same time as Mentor as she had previously testified that after she was allegedly offered a ministerial position while at the family’s compound in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, the former president walked into the room where Mentor was with one of the Guptas who made the offer.
Ahead of dealing with Mentor’s testimony, evidence leader at the commission advocate Paul Pretorius said he was mindful that Zuma’s legal counsel on Monday raised concerns about the reliability and credibility of the former MP’s testimony.
However, Pretorius said Zondo was yet to rule on this matter.
Zuma’s testimony continues, watch live courtesy of the SABC: