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JOHANNESBURG, March 17 (Reuters) – South African cabinet minister Ngoako Ramathlodi was invited to the home of the Gupta family, his advisor told Reuters on Thursday, a further sign of the influence of the Indian businessmen close to President Jacob Zuma.
“We did receive an invite as soon as the minister was appointed but he told them he was not taking any invites because his focus was to resolve the platinum strike,” Ramathlodi’s aide Mahlodi Muofhe said.
Ramathlodi also told Reuters that the influence of the Gupta family would be a very serious issue to be discussed at a meeting of the ruling African National Congress this weekend.
Ramatlhodi says Guptas invited him for dinner but he declined
Amanda Khoza, News24
Durban – Public service and administration minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi on Thursday confirmed that he was invited to a dinner with the Gupta family at their Saxonwold mansion but he declined.
His spokesperson advocate Mahlodi Moufhe confirmed to News24 that the offer took place shortly after Ramatlhodi was appointed minister.
Moufhe said: “He got the offer shortly after he was appointed minister [of mineral resources] but he declined. It was to have dinner with them at their home.”
The revelations come a day after deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas admitted that he was offered former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job before the latter was removed.
On Wednesday Jonas said: “Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of minister of finance to replace then-minister Nene. I rejected this out of hand. The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the President of the Republic appoints ministers.”
Jonas said he hesitated to speak out publicly on the matter until recently.
“I feel it is no longer possible to remain quiet. Of primary concern to me is that this issue has a real danger of diverting attention away from the real and urgent challenges we face as a country.”
The Gupta family accused Jonas of lying and challenged him to prove his claims.
In a statement responding to Jonas a family spokesperson said, “We challenge Minister Jonas to provide a full account of the supposed meeting that took place, under oath, in a court of law.
“Minister Jonas is attempting to cover up and divert attention away from his own relationships and practices. We are confident questions about his own ethical standards will be exposed.
“We will not provide any further running commentary on what is now just a politically-motivated campaign against us.” – News24