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‘No need for Zuma to explain Gupta ties’

04/09/2012.President Jacob Zuma during the cabinet lekgotla that was held at SM Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria Picture: Masi Losi

04/09/2012.President Jacob Zuma during the cabinet lekgotla that was held at SM Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria Picture: Masi Losi

Published May 20, 2013

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 Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma does not have to explain his ties to the Gupta family to the ANC, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

 "Did the president take us into his confidence about the relationship between (him) and the Gupta family? I'm not sure if that is necessary," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

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"It is not the business of the NEC (national executive committee) who I relate to in my personal capacity. The question is whether the relationship impacted on the behaviour of the family."

He said the NEC welcomed the report of the directors-general appointed to probe the unauthorised landing of a private jet chartered by the Guptas at Waterkloof Air Force Base.

"... The 1/8African National Congress 3/8 welcomes the outcome of the investigation. We appreciate 1/8the 3/8 details contained in the report and clarity given," he said.

"It provides the basic information on what happened. This will help the parliamentary debate on Wednesday. We are confident that the relevant ministers will take the process to its logical conclusion so that this incident does not repeat itself."

The plane landed at the base last month. It was carrying 270 guests attending the wedding of Vega Gupta, 23, and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia at Sun City, in North West.

The use of the base sparked widespread criticism. Government launched an investigation into a possible breach of diplomatic protocol.

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On Sunday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said Zuma and his Cabinet were not involved in the landing. Radebe said one of the findings of the investigation was that the landing was a direct result of manipulation of processes.

He said names had been "dropped", including those of Zuma, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Transport Minister Ben Martins.

Mantashe said the situation had not divided the ANC, but rather united it.

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Corruption Watch said the landing showed a serious administrative breakdown at the highest level.

"(The) ...findings admit to an extraordinary litany of fraudulent misrepresentation on the part of people acting on behalf of the Gupta family and employed in senior positions in the public service, the defence force and the police," said director David Lewis.

"These fraudulent misrepresentations potentially entail criminal liability and these should be investigated and, if criminality is found, they should be charged."

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The investigation found the aircraft was cleared for landing by the Air Force Command Post, and the correct clearance procedures were followed, but based on false information and abuse of privileges.

Radebe said this combination resulted in the "manipulation of the process by various persons".

Lewis questioned how misrepresentation was possible without evidence of it.

"How is it possible to 'misrepresent’ that one speaks in the name of the president or a member of the Cabinet without evidence of this, without evidence of formal authority?" he asked in a statement.

"This incident speaks (of) a serious breakdown in administration at the highest level."

Lewis said the violation of security through misrepresentation could possibly happen in other administrative decisions also.

"How can the public be expected to accept that if a violation of security... could have been secured by misrepresentation, that the same does not occur in the issuing of licences or tenders or in the range of administrative decisions that are taken on a daily basis?

"This is the level of mistrust that acts of corruption of this scale generates."

He said it seemed as though the "mere mention" of the Gupta family with the names of senior executive members was sufficient to procure extraordinary privileges, resulting from "the most flagrant breaches".

"We have to ask how it is that the Gupta name resonates so loud. Is it not because of their highly publicised relationship with the family of the president?" asked Lewis. - Sapa

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