South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has submitted an affidavit to the inquiry commission into “state capture” in which he declared his meetings with the controversial Gupta brothers, Times Live reported on Friday. The president also asked the State Capture Commission to make his affidavit public.
The Indian-born Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – are known to be close to former South African President Jacob Zuma and have been accused of “state capture”, a term coined to describe how the family allegedly used its relationship with Zuma to influence state contracts, Cabinet appointments and secure several multimillion-dollar deals in the country. The former president has claimed that he has never broken the law in his dealings with the Gupta family.
“I thought that as president, he should be the first to give the commission his own affidavit,” Times Live quoted Deputy Justice Raymond Zondo as saying. “The president accepted that this was necessary.... He also undertook to encourage cabinet ministers that when they are approached by the commission in this regard, they should co-operate.” Zondo further added that Ramaphosa had submitted his affidavit early in July.
Zondo has also clarified that making Ramaphosa’s affidavit does not mean that the same will be done for all affidavits by cabinet ministers. “Bearing in mind that the evidence that I have heard since August last year in relation to the Guptas and Bosasa, it is important that the commission gets a full idea of what relationships those entities may have had with people who are or were in the executive,” the judge said.
In the affidavit, Ramaphosa said that his interactions with the Gupta family were only at events “where nothing of any consequence was discussed” and claimed that he had never interacted with them beyond pleasantries. “The only occasion on which matters of substance were discussed was when the Gupta brothers requested a meeting with ANC [African National Congress] officials to discuss their situation in relation to closure of their bank accounts and at which was also raised the controversy around them and their relationship with the then president Jacob Gedleyilhekisa Zuma,” it said, according to IOL News.
Ramaphosa also mentioned another instance in April 2016 when Rajesh Gupta had met the president and made a presentation on the Gupta family’s business model. The president said that he had also voiced concerns over landing the family’s private jet full of wedding guests at South Africa’s National Defence Force Waterkloof Airforce Base in 2013. “I stated that they had, through their actions, placed the former president in an invidious position,” the affidavit read. “Tony [Rajesh] Gupta’s reaction was that permission for the plane to land was obtained and given by the Indian High Commissioner.”