The Presidency have released a statement debunking media report stating that the former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor accompanied President Jacob Zuma to a state visit in India and that she was offered a top ministerial position by the Gupta family.
In the statement issued on Tuesday night, the presidency spokesperson, Bongani Majola said that President Zuma has no recollection of Ms Mentor and that he would therefore not comment on any alleged incident in her career.
The statement went further to say that the alleged claim was misleading and therefore has to be corrected.
Vytjie Mentor had in stated in a Facebook posting that she was offered a ministerial role by the Gubta family on the condition that she dropped the South African Airways flight route to India to give it to them but that she refused and the president Jacob Zuma was fully aware of it.
“I refused and so was never made a minister. The president was in another room when they offered this to me (at the Gupta home) in Saxonwold (Johannesburg)‚” she said.
This offer was allegedly made after Barbara Hogan was removed as minister of public enterprises, when Ms Mentor was the chairperson of the public enterprises portfolio committee.
The presidency however refuted being accompanied by Mentor on a trip to India let alone being aware of the ministerial offer.
“By stating that Mentor ‘accompanied’ President Zuma on a State Visit to India, the media gives the public an incorrect impression of a status similar to that of Ministers or Deputy Ministers who receive direct formal invitations from the President to accompany him on State Visits, and who then join him on all official engagements during the visit as members of the official delegation,”
Meanwhile, in a report by the Sowetan dated December 2010, Mentor, who was then public enterprises portfolio committee chairperson is said to have joined Zuma on a state visit to China. The report detailed how the then Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba revealed through parliamentary questioning that the ANC was investigating Mentor after she received payment of R155 000 from Transnet for her trip to China including a first class air ticket.
The Gupta family has however denied ever having a meeting with Mentor let alone offering her a top job as she had claimed. Speaking on Tuesday, the family challenged Ms Mentor to file an affidavit stating under oath that she was offered a ministerial position by the family.
In addition to this, the family said they are sure the country’s constitution which ” has a robust constitution and a strict process governing appointment of Ministers and Deputy Ministers”, is capable of dealing with anyone who tried to abuse power around appointments.
“Facebook is not the appropriate forum to air such a complaint, and we can only assume it is an attempt to gain personal profile and media attention. We challenge Vytjie Mentor to file an affidavit,” a Gupta family spokesperson said in a statement.
Reports revealed that this was not the first time president Zuma has been criticized by the former MP. One of such occasions was when she joined other ANC members in speaking openly of being “embarrassed’’ and “pained’’ by the president after he was forced into a climb down on Nkandla.