Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele. Picture Ian Landsberg.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele. Picture Ian Landsberg.

I don’t even know the Guptas, says Cele

By Andrew Robertson Time of article published Mar 15, 2016

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Durban - Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele says that the Guptas did not appoint him to cabinet.

On Monday, in an interview with political commentor Justice Malala on eNCA Cele said: “I have never been appointed by the Guptas.”

When questioned if other ministers have been appointed by the Guptas he said: “I don’t know, I hear these stories, maybe, they (the ministers) are there to answer for themselves.”

Read:  ‘Zuma under ANC fire over links with Guptas ’

He added: “But me? never. I just don’t know the brothers, I read about them in the papers.”

The Guptas have recently been accused of heavily influencing the hiring and firing of ministers. They are rumoured on occasion to summon ministers to their Saxonwold mansion and give them instructions related to their portfolios.

Read: I know nothing about the Guptas: Gordhan

This week the Sunday Times ran a story on the family with the headline “How Gupta shopped for Finance Minister”. The article said sources claim the Gupta brothers offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas the position of finance minister before the sacking of Nhlanhla Nene.

The weekly paper said President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane was present when the Guptas offered Jonas the job.

Jonas reportedly turned down the offer.

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa has slammed the article as “nothing but gossip masquerading as news”.

A statement from the Treasury on Monday morning refuted these allegations and registered concerns about the paper relying on “unnamed and faceless” whistle-blowers.

At a press confreence on Monday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said: “I have no personal knowledge about the [alleged] meeting and I have nothing to add.”

The EFF has also called out Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula as allegedly being appointed by the Guptas.

The party has alleged that Mbalula heard about his promotion from deputy minister of police to sports minister from the Gupta family. He has remained silent on the matter thus far.

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