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Cape Town - An executive in a company owned by the Guptas donated money to the DA, its leader Helen Zille said on Tuesday.
She said the DA made a “commitment of confidentiality” to its donors, but that media reports claiming she had solicited funds from the Guptas had prompted her to speak on the matter.
“When I heard this, I decided to take the unprecedented step of telephoning our donor to ask him to release me from our commitment of confidentiality,” she said in a statement.
“He declined. He said he did not want his name in the papers. He is not a Gupta. He is an executive in a company owned by the Guptas,” said Zille.
“I gave him the undertaking I would not mention his name, but I said, given the wild and unfounded speculation (masquerading as fact), I would have to set the record straight.”
Unsourced reports about funding for the DA surfaced on Saturday.
The Weekend Argus quoted unnamed sources as saying Zille went to the Gupta family's estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in 2011 to ask for a donation.
She left with a “substantial” cheque, believed to be several hundred thousand rand, the paper reported.
Zille said in the run-up to the 2009 elections, DA North West leader Chris Hattingh contacted the fund-raising office, and said a long-standing acquaintance of his wanted to donate to the party's election campaign.
Zille met the donor and received a R200 000 pledge.
“The donor then suggested that I come and fetch the cheque at the Guptas' house in Saxonwold, and it transpired that he was a senior executive in one of the Guptas' companies.
“I and my colleague Ian Davidson duly went to the Guptas' home, ate some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten, and received the cheque for R200 000 from the individual,” she said.
It was a personal cheque from his personal bank account and did not come from a Gupta company or from the Guptas.
The businessman pledged another R100 000 in his personal capacity later during the campaign, said Zille.
In 2010, when he pledged another R100 000, the cheque was made out in the name of a company of which the donor is a senior executive. This company was either partially or wholly-owned by the Guptas, said Zille.
It was not one of their known companies like Sahara Computers or The New Age newspaper.
In 2011, Hattingh asked Zille to approach the executive again.
“By this time, I was becoming concerned about news stories linking donations from companies associated with the Guptas to the ANC's power abuse and political patronage,” she said.
“Even though it was stressed that the person would make the donation in his individual capacity, I did not think it wise to pursue the relationship. I therefore declined the request for an appointment.”
The same happened in 2012 and Zille declined the meeting again.
On Monday, The New Age newspaper quoted ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman as saying the DA had received a R4 million donation last week, and had used the money to refurbish its offices in Cape Town.
Zille said there was a risk associated with the confidentiality of donors.
“Such as the opportunity this creates for people with malicious agendas - such as Marius Fransman - to invent insane allegations, such as that the DA received R4 million from the Guptas to renovate our Cape Town offices,” she said.
“That is so ludicrous that most thinking people would just dismiss it.” - Sapa