I did not consult the Gupta family before any Cabinet reshuffle - Zuma

Former president says he always consults, but only a very select few

I did not consult the Gupta family before any Cabinet reshuffle - Zuma

16 July 2019

Former president Jacob Zuma has denied the Gupta family had any influence in the appointment of his Cabinet ministers.

Zuma said this during his testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday.

Advocate Paul Pretorius SC questioned the former statesman on former MP Vytjie Mentor's testimony.

Mentor had testified she was offered the public enterprises ministry by the Guptas if she agreed to close down the South African Airways India route. She also claimed Zuma was in the room when this happened.

In his response, Zuma said he knew nothing about Mentor's conversation with Ajay Gupta, saying it was a discussion between the two. He also denied ever being in the Gupta compound at Saxonwold.

When Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked if the Gupta family was ever consulted in the appointment of any Cabinet ministers, Zuma simply said no.

"Ajay was not part of [the] government. He was not even part of [the] people who normally get consulted. He shouldn't have known.

"I consult very selected and few people. I always consult. At no stage could I do a reshuffle with people not knowing."

He told Zondo these people normally included the ANC top six as well as leaders from senior alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP.

Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle during his terms as state president caused tensions in the alliance as well as the ANC top six.

During his time as head of state, Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet 11 times. Two of his controversial reshuffles included the axing of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, as well as the replacement of finance minister Nhlahla Nene with relatively unknown Des van Rooyen.

The ANC top six at the time publicly lambasted this move, saying they had not been consulted.

In August, Mentor testified before the commission that Transnet had booked her a first-class ticket to China on Emirates via Dubai.

She said Duduzane Zuma was on board the flight, adding he had introduced her to Rajesh Gupta, businessman Fana Hlongwane and another unknown man of Indian descent.

Mentor said Rajesh Gupta told her during the introduction that one of his brothers was already in China as part of the advance team in charge of logistics.

However, in her letter, Mentor would later issue an apology to Hlongwane, saying he was not one of the men she was introduced to.