File Picture: Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula has refused to answer questions about the Gupta family.

Parliament – South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday sidestepped questions on whether he was approached by the wealthy and influential Gupta family before he was offered his cabinet post, hinting that such “allegations” were part of a plot to undermine the morals of the ruling party.

Speaking to journalists following a media briefing on Fifa’s allegations that South Africa paid $10 million in exchange for votes to secure the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, Mbalula insisted President Jacob Zuma, who is seen to be close to the Guptas, offered him his job.

Read: #Zuptagate: Zuma fights for his political life

However, he would not direcly answer questions on whether the Guptas approached him and offered him his job.

“I’m not party to that particular chorus. It has got all sorts of ramifications and interests unto it which are not genuine at all and when I look at it with a political eye it is absolutely something that seeks to undermine the morals of the liberation movement to an extent that we are here,” he said.

“We are not appointed by the Guptas. We are appointed by the leadership of the ANC and in this particular instance a charge is made about the Guptas having an influence in terms of our appointments that is something that people who make such allegations have got to themselves have got the onus to prove them. It’s not on us.”

Read: Outrage over Guptas' ‘minister meddling’

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, a former Zuma ally, claimed in Parliament earlier this year that the Guptas had offered Mbalula his post before he had officially been appointed by Zuma.

“I’ve got nothing to do with what Julius says or what he stands for or the allegations that he makes…Why should I glorify what he says with an answer?” Mbalula asked.

The fact that he was privy to what information in the ANC does not mean we can allow him to use that information to undermine our cohesion.”

Asked whether he had ever been invited to the Gupta’s luxury Saxonwold compound, where former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor claims she too was offered a ministerial post in return for doing the family business favours, Mbalula simply replied: “To the Gupta’s compound? It is an immaterial question.”

Pressure has been mounting on those holding top government posts to disclose whether the Guptas had any influence on their appointments.

This followed the admission by Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas on Wednesday that the Guptas offered him then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job, which he declined.

 ** This story has been updated.

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