In what’s in all likelihood the country’s worst kept secret, and a process that’s more than likely been pushed forward thanks to Vytjie Mentor (the forgotten former ANC MP), Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas has come clean. In the statement below Jonas confirms members of the Gupta family offered him the position of Finance Minister to replace then minister Nhlanhla Nene. Jonas said he rejected it out of hand and also cleared Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Jessie Duarte of any involvement. But what next? How will government deal with this crisis of what must now be seen as a attempted state capture, and who else has been approached and offered similar opportunities? And while Jonas has come clean, was he legally entitled to come clean earlier? This is a defining moment in our country’s history and is sure to see further misdoings come to the surface. Hope springs. – Stuart Lowman
From Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas
- I have decided to respond to and clarify certain questions that have been in the public domain recently. I do so in accordance with my conscience, my political values and the best traditions of my organisation, the ANC, of which I have been a member since my early teens.
- I regard our Constitution as being sacrosanct and it embraces the values that South Africans struggled for, and what we live by. I was appointed Deputy Minister in terms of the Constitution by the President of the Republic. Any practice that conflicts with the prescripts of the constitution must be challenged in the interest of our democracy and the accountability we have to our people. The ANC that we have been and continue to be proud members of, has offered us the opportunity to serve our country, an honour that I do not take for granted. My historical commitment to the liberation of our people has not waned.
- My daily decisions and actions are informed by the understanding that true political freedom will be achieved through deliberate and active management of a transformed yet inclusive growing economy. The current economic climate presents many risks for our country, which requires responsible leadership to avoid a fullblown crisis. We have to unite on the key issues relating to managing the macroeconomic risks, while urgently unlocking new sources of growth and job creation. South Africa requires “all hands on deck”.
- The extent to which we are able to navigate the current macro-economic challenges, restore investor confidence and rapidly stimulate growth, will depend on heightened levels of political leadership.
- The narrative that has grown around the issue of “state capture” should be of concern to all responsible and caring South Africans, particularly those of us who have accepted the task to lead our people. We cannot afford to ignore the obvious impact these sentiments may have on our country and the resultant potential of undermining our moral authority. Neither can we afford to allow the attempts to capture the state to divert us from dealing with the challenges that our country faces. History will judge us on the extent to which we have stayed true to the commitments we have made to our people through our public pronouncements and private conduct.
- Therefore let me state the facts on the matter of whether I was approached by nongovernmental individuals in respect of the position of Minister of Finance. 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. Let me also place it on record that there was no discussion between the Deputy Secretary General of the ANC Ms Jessie Duarte and myself on this matter.
- I have hesitated to speak out publicly on this matter until now, but 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.
- I am committed to good governance, abiding by the constitution of our country and being accountable to our people who repeatedly express their confidence and trust in us, election after election. It is this constant state of awareness and consciousness drummed into most of us throughout our service in the national democratic revolution led by the ANC, that has provided us with the moral capital and tools to apply sound judgement to navigate challenges that emerge in the natural course of societal leadership. It is only through these values and moral covenants that I serve my organisation, my fellow country men and women, my beloved South Africa.
- Finally, I remain confident that the challenges that we face as a nation will be overcome if we collectively use our efforts for the benefit of all. I am resolute in playing my part in preserving the integrity of National Treasury as an institution in my capacity as Deputy Minister. I’m also committed to in making my contribution towards building a prosperous South Africa led by the glorious movement of our people, the African National Congress.
I could no longer stay quiet on Gupta offer – Jonas
By Genevieve Quintal, News24
Johannesburg – Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said he could no longer remain quiet about the Gupta family offering him the top job in the ministry.
Jonas on Wednesday confirmed he was offered the job of finance minister before Nhlanhla Nene was removed.
“We cannot afford to ignore the obvious impact these sentiments may have on our country and the resultant potential of undermining our moral authority. Neither can we afford to allow the attempts to capture the state to divert us from dealing with the challenges that our country faces,” said Jonas.
“History will judge us on the extent to which we have stayed true to the commitments we have made to our people through our public pronouncements and private conduct.”
National heroes all – Mcebisi Jonas: Nhlanhla Nene, Vyjjie Mentor, Pravin Gordhan. SA salutes you. #ZuptasMustFall. Today. If not sooner.
— Alec Hogg (@alechogg) March 16, 2016
Reports surfaced at the weekend that Jonas was called to a meeting with the Guptas and offered the job two weeks before Nene was removed.
The Sunday Times also reported that President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane was at the meeting at a Sandton hotel in November. The newspaper further alleged that ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte had offered Jonas the position a few days later.
However, Jonas on Wednesday confirmed it was the politically-connected family who offered him the position.
“Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then-Minister Nene,” he said.
“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 wanted to place on record that he did not have any discussion with Duarte about the finance minister job.
“I am committed to good governance, abiding by the constitution of our country and being accountable to our people who repeatedly express their confidence and trust in us, election after election.
“It is this constant state of awareness and consciousness, drummed into most of us throughout our service in the national democratic revolution led by the ANC, that has provided us with the moral capital and tools to apply sound judgement to navigate challenges that emerge in the natural course of societal leadership.”
He said it was through these “values and moral covenants” that he served the ANC and the country.
‘The truth shall set us free!’
This is not the first time that the Guptas – who are said to have strong ties with Zuma, his family and other ANC leaders – have been accused of influencing Cabinet appointments.
On Tuesday, allegations made by former ANC MP and parliamentary caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor that the Guptas had offered her a ministerial job surfaced on social media.
The allegation was made on Facebook on Monday night in response to Democratic Alliance member Johann Abrie’s post about the Guptas allegedly offering Jonas the finance minister job.
She wrote: “But they had previously asked me to become Minister of Public Enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give it to them.
“I refused and so I was never made a Minister. The President was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld. [sic]”
Despite her allegation, Zuma has claimed that he had “no recollection of Ms Mentor and is not aware of the alleged incidents in her career”.
On Wednesday, on return from her holiday in Thailand, Mentor rejected Zuma’s claim.
She listed an number of times that she had interacted with him.
The Guptas also once again denied offering Mentor any Cabinet position.
Following the release of Jonas’s statement on Wednesday, Mentor took to Facebook to show her support: “Viva cde. Mcebisi Jonas! The truth shall set us free!” – News24