ANC national chairperson and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe Tuesday revealed that he never met members of the controversial Gupta family on his own. Mantashe said he met members of the family at Luthuli House when they were setting up their newspaper The New Age.
“I’ve never met the Guptas on my own,” Mantashe said, after testifying at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.
Mantashe will be back to testify about the ANC’s deployment committee before the commission, headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
He backed the commission, saying it was dealing with things that have been bothering the country for a long time.
Mantashe defended the ANC against claims that it sought to protect the controversial Gupta family. He said the party intervened in the Guptas’ battle with the country’s four major banks to stop “white monopoly capital” from exercising its power over black business
The former ANC secretary-general told the commission that he wanted to clarify the confusion of the banks in relation to the meetings the party had with them about the closure of accounts belonging to the Guptas and companies related to the family.
Mantashe said the ANC got involved in the Guptas’ battle with the banks after coming under pressure from various groups, including the Black Business Council as well as Oakbay Investments, which was owned by the Guptas.
According to Mantashe, the ANC was then forced to seek clarity on the workings of the banks.
The party set up a series of meetings with the banks that closed the Guptas’ accounts and its delegation included its deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, national executive committee member Enoch Godongwana and legal adviser Krish Naidoo.
He said the ANC later returned to Oakbay and informed the company that “people must comply with rules and regulations”.
The banks had told the ANC they had to comply with 210 pieces of legislation and were only allowed to discuss details of their clients’ accounts with law enforcement agencies and banking regulators.
Oakbay Investments had complained there was a risk that thousands of jobs would be lost following the banks’ move, but the ANC appeared unconvinced.
“We deal with the good and the bad in society,” said Mantashe, when asked about the ANC’s decision to meet Oakbay despite the company facing serious allegations of impropriety.
He confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa would make the ANC’s next submission at the commission.
Mantashe also promised the commission that Duarte was prepared to testify following her being implicated by some witnesses, including former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor and former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan.
Former government spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi got in a heated argument with Vincent Maleka, a member of the commission’s legal team, over his line of questioning.
Manyi complained that Maleka was treating him like a criminal and demanded that he recuse himself.
Zondo warned that no-one must jeopardise the commission’s prospects of success.
The commission will not be taking action against EFF leader Julius Malema, who criticised it and insulted the head of its legal team, Paul Pretorius.
Wednesday it will hear the evidence of two witnesses: former public service and administration and mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi and his former adviser Mahlodi Muofhe.