THE Guptas and their influence on the ANC and the state will be at the forefront when the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meets in Irene, south of Pretoria, today and tomorrow.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas’s disclosure on being approached by members of the Gupta family in November at their Saxonwold, Johannesburg, mansion to succeed then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has rocked the party. It has prompted calls for President Jacob Zuma’s recall.
Former ANC parliamentary caucus chair Vytjie Mentor then posted on Facebook the Guptas have also approached her, in November 2010, to replace then public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan.
An NEC member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a lot of the reports about the influence of the Guptas had been correct, and the weekend’s NEC meeting would be “a test of the possibilities, a test of the appetite of the NEC members (for change)”.
Of 100 NEC members, 86 were elected at the party’s 2012 elective conference, the rest are ex officio members from the leagues and provinces.
“All of these things are precursors, a lot of the party (SACP) ministers are going to be chopped; they are the ones not toeing the (Gupta) line,” said the NEC source.
The belief was that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel would be dropped from the cabinet in a reshuffle.
The SACP released a statement yesterday that it had “learnt reliably from several sources” that another cabinet reshuffle was imminent.
“The plan is to replace long-serving Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies with a recently sworn-in ANC MP and business person,” SACP spokesperson Alex Mohubetswane said.
The NEC source said the fight over the influence of the Guptas was merely a proxy war in the succession race for the ANC’s leadership to be decided in December 2017.
“Zuma’s supporters want to get rid of all the SACP guys. There’s a memo out, which is part of the cleaning-up (operation). Kebby (Maphatsoe) and Collen (Maine) are the hacks for Zuma.
“It’s surprising no other ministers have come out yet. They’ll be checking the balance of forces on the weekend,” said the NEC source.
Maphatsoe, deputy minister of Defence and Military Veterans and head of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, slammed Jonas for being “dishonest” and demanded the ANC “takes him to task”.
Asked about expectations for this weekend’s meeting, he said it would be “normal”.
“We don’t have to waste our time as an NEC discussing the Guptas, because the Guptas are not running the ANC, the ANC is run by Luthuli House,” said Maphatsoe.
Referring to Jonas, Maphatsoe said the deputy minister was not “honest” with the ANC.
“Because he had all the time to report this thing, he did not report. I spoke to him last week Thursday. I was with him on the plane and he told me that ‘there is this story that is coming and he’s not involved, this thing never happened’.
“I then asked him why he did not respond (to the newspaper report) and he told me his lawyer said he must not respond and there was nothing like that (approach from the Guptas), and he’ll make it the storyline. When I saw the story in the newspaper, I was very disappointed with him; that he’s not honest and why is he raising this thing on the eve of the NEC meeting.
“Why is he now coming out when the media has leaked this information, why is he raising this thing when Moody’s are here in the country?” asked NEC member Maphatsoe.
Asked yesterday whether he had been approached by the Guptas ahead of his appointment as Sport and Recreation minister, Fikile Mbalula fired back angrily, saying he was appointed only by Zuma. His appointment had been seconded by the ANC.
“I was never appointed by the Guptas, I was appointed by President Zuma and the African National Congress.”
Responding whether he had ever been to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, Mbalula said it was “immaterial” whether he had been.