JOHANNESBURG – Former Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi says he believes President Jacob Zuma started roping in the Gupta family into what would later become state matters even before he became president of the country.
Vavi was remembering a meeting which took place behind closed doors in Equatorial Guinea eight years ago.
He suspects that that could have been the beginning of the state capture by the Guptas.
Two weeks ago, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas confirmed he was offered the position of finance minister by a member of the Gupta family, but turned it down.
Vavi says he and SACP leader Blade Nzimande accompanied President Zuma to Equatorial Guinea’s Independence Day celebrations in 2008 before Zuma was elected as president.
He says he felt extremely uncomfortable when he saw Zuma’s son, Duduzane, meeting with one of the Gupta brothers behind closed doors.
“What made me uncomfortable was the history of the [Schabir] Shaik scandal involving the president and I said can he be doing the same thing again that he was accused of and we worked so hard to get him out of the situation he was facing.”
Vavi says despite feeling something suspicious was going on in the meeting between Duduzane and the Guptas, he had no evidence to back up his suspicions.
The former Cosatu boss says eight years later, he still doesn’t know what was discussed those behind closed doors and what was more important than the alliance partners’ meeting.
ANC TO INVESTIGATE ZUMA-GUPTA RELATIONSHIP
Last week, African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said the party’s investigation into the Guptas will establish whether Zuma’s relationship with the family has started a process of ‘capture of the state’.
He had announced that the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had decided anyone who was approached by the family should contact his office, so the national working committee can investigate the claims.
Mantashe was asked if the ANC thought the president’s relationship with the Gupta family was the start of the process of state capture.
He said, “The reason that we’re establishing that avenue is to get concrete statements on people who are affected by it. When we get those statements, we’ll actually establish truth from facts.”
And he said the NEC wants the Hawks and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to stop fighting in public.
“It affirms its full confidence in the minister of finance and applauds the work of the president and the minister to boost confidence of the South African economy.”
That may be a suggestion that the Hawks should drop their demand for Gordhan to answer 27 questions about a South African Revenue Services (Sars) unit he helped to create.