Last year
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas. Photo by Matthew le Cordeur, Fin24  ~ 

DEPUTY Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas has taken on Ajay Gupta in a replying affidavit that challenges an allegation that he lied about a 2015 meeting that took place at the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, Joburg.

“I … met Mr Ajay Gupta at his Saxonwold residence on 23 October 2015 and … he did speak to me on that day,” said Jonas.

The purported meeting is a major puzzle piece in allegations that the Guptas are guilty of state capture through their influence over their close friend President Jacob Zuma.

The meeting – in which Jonas was allegedly offered the job of finance minister - would have occurred just over a month before Nhlanhla Nene was fired as finance minister and replaced for a few days by Des van Rooyen (who was then dumped for Pravin Gordhan).

In an affidavit last Friday, Ajay Gupta denied meeting Jonas and called him “blatantly dishonest”.

The tit-for-tat affidavits stacking up form part of a court case between Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments over its blacklisted bank accounts. The hearing is set to be heard on 28 March.

Gupta got Duduzane Zuma, one of the president's sons, as well as Fana Hlongwane, who were at a meeting with Jonas that day, to swear in separate affidavits that he was not there.

Both these affidavits have a typing error that shows the meeting was held on 25 October 2017. The meeting Jonas is referring to took place on 23 October 2015.

Jonas argues that the fact Zuma and Hlongwane’s affadavits refer to the incorrect date means that they carry no weight.

Pointing to the testimony he gave former public protector Thuli Madonsela for her State of Capture report, he repeated the following.

“The correct facts regarding Mr Ajay Gupta himself are, in short, as follows:

- I met him at his Saxonwold residence on 23 October 2015 together with Messrs Duduzane Zuma and Hlongwane.

- Mr Gupta indicated to me that ‘we’ – I understood clearly, the Gupta family and its interests – had been gathering intelligence on me including those closest to me;

- they were aware of my activities and connections with senior members of the African National Congress; they are going to make me the Minister of Finance;

- collectively as a family they make a lot of money from the state, that they intend to increase that to about R8bn from about R6bn currently and that the bulk of their money is stashed in Dubai;

- they have determined that the National Treasury is a stumbling block to their ambitions of making money from the South African government;

- they have made Mr Duduzane Zuma a billionaire including the house he has in Dubai;

- Mr Gupta is offering me R600m to be deposited in an account of my choice;

- and if I had a bag that could carry R600 000 then I could get that amount there and then.” 

Jonas said nothing in Madonsela’s report questions the “integrity of my version”.

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