Politics / 30 October 2018, 08:02am / MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA
Cape Town - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has confirmed he met the Gupta family on a number of occasions between 2009 and 2013.
“As trade and industry minister, my work involves frequent interactions with a wide range of business people as well as actual or potential investors,” he said.
This emerged in a written reply to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Werner Horn.
Horn wanted to know whether he influenced officials to take action on behalf of the Guptas and whether he attended meetings where the family was present.
His reply comes amid calls for ANC and SACP leaders to come clean.
Davies said in 2009 he received a request to meet Duduzane Zuma to discuss some business ideas.
“I knew Duduzane since he was a child in Maputo and agreed to a meeting at my residence in Cape Town. Zuma arrived with Ajay Gupta and this was the first time that I met a member of that family,” he said.
Davies also said Gupta had told him about his company that spent a considerable sum on preparation for a feasibility study for a mining project which had been submitted to the Independent Development Corporation (IDC).
“He complained that the application was taking long to process and that they were in danger of losing the option to buy from existing owners. If this happened, he said, hundreds of workers would lose their jobs.”
His response to Gupta was that he could not, and would not get involved in deciding on the merits of any particular application.
“I did, however, say I would refer his complaint of the time delay to the IDC as I have with numerous other similar complaints with regard to procedures by the department or agencies reporting to it.”
Davies also said after 2009 he participated in numerous business forums both in South Africa and India when the government made considerable effort in BRICS. “Members of the Gupta family attended a number of these.”
He also said he had accepted invitations to social events organised by Guptas on about five or six occasions, including a cultural event on the sidelines of an international cricket match.
“On very few occasions, I accepted a personal dinner invitation with my wife at which the mother of the Gupta brothers was also present,” he said with regard to visits to the Saxonwold compound.
Davies said the discussions were general and broad, and mostly social with emphasis on the value of deepening economic relations with India.
“They also informed me, in general terms, of their plans to establish a new newspaper.” Davies said that he had shared the information about his meeting with the Guptas with former public protector Thuli Madonsela when she was probing state capture.
“I am similarly prepared to interact with the Zondo commission or its investigators in any way they see fit,” he added.