Johannesburg - A number of government ministers were regularly summoned to the Gupta family’s compound in Saxonwold, says former CEO of government communications Themba Maseko.
Maseko told the commission of inquiry into state capture about his meeting with the eldest Gupta brother, Ajay, in 2010 at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold.
He said Ajay demonstrated the power he had using his relationship with former president Jacob Zuma.
Maseko, while on his way to meet with Gupta, received a call from former president Jacob Zuma telling him to “assist the Gupta brothers”
Gupta told Maseko during their meeting that the family wanted access to the R600 million that the GCIS spent on advertising revenue for the 2010/11 financial year.
Maseko was told he should make sure that money went into the family’s The New Age newspaper account.
“I told him [Ajay] if you want to do any business you have to talk to the individual departments. He cut me short and said: 'listen this is how things are going to work, you are going to go all those departments talk to the ministers and tell them to transfer the money into your account and your only job is to make sure that the money comes to me and The New Age',” said Maseko.
The former government spokesperson explained that he tried numerous times to tell Gupta that he had no powers instructing government departments to transfer money, but Gupta would have none of it and started becoming aggressive, explaining his relationship with Zuma.
“He said: 'no, this is how the system works now if there is any minister that is not cooperating I tell him (Zuma) and he sorts them out'. He told me he had regular meetings with the president and if there is a minister who is not cooperating, the minister is then summoned to Saxonwold where they are given an instruction about what to do,” said Maseko.
Maseko said at the time, there were rumours that some ministers were regulars at the Gupta compound.
“There were a lot of rumours in government corridors that a lot of ministers were visiting the Saxonwold compound. I may not have proof of that but there were reports in the media,” said Maseko.
Maseko left the Gupta compound after he had refused to assist the family.
The family later made another attempt to force him to give them access to government’s spending budget, this time it was Tony Gupta who called and wanted Maseko to give them access to government funding as they were about to launch The New Age Newspaper in late 2010.
“The gentleman called and requested a meeting for Monday morning at 8am to discuss government advertising for The New Age newspaper. I told him I would meet with him but that he should call me on Monday morning as my diary was packed. He insisted that the meeting had to happen on Monday as their launch of the newspaper was imminent. He insisted that the launch was imminent and that’s why the advertisement had to be placed.
"Ajay said: 'I can see you are being difficult' and he said the meeting will not happen on Monday but it will happen on Saturday at his house in Saxonwold. I told him: 'Ajay, you cannot tell me what to do'," said Maseko.
After Maseko refused to change his schedule to meet with the Guptas, Gupta threatened to report him to Zuma.
“Ajay continued saying: 'I can see you are being difficult' and he said he is going speak to my seniors and he will make sure that I am sorted out and he will make sure I am replaced with people who will cooperate," said Maseko.
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