Former President Thabo Mbeki has denied introducing his successor, Jacob Zuma, to the controversial Gupta family.
Mbeki, in a statement issued through his foundation, said any suggestion that his alleged introduction of Zuma to the Guptas gave them significant sway over this country’s politics was tantamount to saying Zuma lacked ethical judgment.
“For the record, president Thabo Mbeki did not at any point introduce the Gupta family to President Zuma,” said Mbeki’s spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga.
“Even if it were true that president Mbeki had introduced the Gupta family to President Zuma, unless it is alleged and proved that he did so with an improper motive, he could not be held responsible for whatever may or may not have transpired thereafter between President Zuma and the Gupta family.”
Mpho Masemola, of the Ex-Political Prisoners’ Association, said on Sunday that Zuma had said that he met members of the Gupta family through Mbeki.
“The Gupta family has not come with Jacob Zuma,” said Masemola. “The Gupta family was introduced to Jacob Zuma by Thabo Mbeki and Essop Pahad.
“People are making noises now as if the president has been clinging to the Gupta family.
“It’s not like that.”
Mbeki said yesterday that Masemola “deploys innuendo in order to socialise accountability for an individual’s ethical judgment”.
The former president made his comments about the Guptas in the midst of increasing political pressure on Zuma about his involvement with the family, and the Constitutional Court ruling that he failed to uphold, protect and defend the constitution. Zuma chose not to implement the remedial actions stipulated by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela relating to security upgrades at his private Nkandla residence paid for with public money.
Zuma apologised only for the “confusion” he said had been generated by the Nkandla scandal and for the delay in resolving it. His apology did not extend to other aspects of the scandal, for which he has been widely condemned.
The Guptas have said they will talk to the banks that have withdrawn their services from their businesses.
Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, a holding company for Gupta businesses in South Africa, said he hoped to convince at least one local bank that it should re-establish the Oakbay business accounts.
“We will be talking to all four banks this week,” Howa told Bloomberg TV.