Johannesburg - Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor has told the state capture inquiry that former president Jacob Zuma was present at the Gupta family’s compound in Saxonworld as she was offered a ministerial position by Ajay Gupta.
Mentor says she was shocked to see Zuma walk into the room where she was sitting with the eldest Gupta brother Ajay Gupta at the family home in 2010.
She told the inquiry that Ajay Gupta had told her that Zuma was due to reshuffle his Cabinet and that she could be appointed as the new minister of public enterprises, replacing Barbara Hogan. She was told that she could get the job only if she agrees that she will abolish the South African Airways (SAA) route from Johannesburg to India.
Mentor said she declined the offer and was surprised that Ajay had such important knowledge of Zuma's decisions.
She said she told him she was not interested and lambasted him for claiming her could give her a ministerial position, and immediately after Zuma walked into the room.
"When asked how they could make me a minister, he said they would put the word to the president. I did not accept the offer because I felt he had no authority to offer ministerial positions to me or to any other person. I was irritated, I said to him that it is only the president together with Luthuli House that has the authority to make people ministers," said Mentor.
"When Zuma walked in, I stood up from my seat out of protocol and respect. Ajay remained seated. I immediately went ahead and told the president about Ajay's offer and the imminent reshuffle of former public enterprise minister Babara Hogan. The president sought to calm me down. He did not address the issues that I was putting to him. He told me to calm down. I felt that he was finding issues with my agitation and anger," she said.
Mentor said it was clear that Zuma was not surprised by claims that Ajay offered her a job.
Shortly after her meeting with Ajay Gupta, Hogan was indeed fired as the minister of public enterprises and Malusi Gigaba was appointed. Mentor said after Gigaba was appointed the SAA route from Johannesburg to India was cancelled as the Guptas wanted.
Mentor was questioned whether she was sure that Zuma's former chief of staff Lakela Kaunda called her to arrange the meeting between her and the president. Mentor insisted that she was contacted by Kaunda.
The inquiry continues.IOL