Ajay Gupta has for the very first time refused to remain quiet on the alleged state capture by his family through their business and close relationship with President Jacob Zuma.
“State capture” has become part of the everyday language, personified for most South Africans by the nouveau riche Gupta family. The close relationship they enjoy with the person and family of President Jacob Zuma is being subjected to increased scrutiny by both local and global media.
But speaking in defence of his family, Ajay Gupta said the alleged state capture is far from the truth… as he is “not a lobbyist” or a “state capturer”.
Ajay who was speaking as an audience member during SABC’s Morning Live breakfast show, said he believes the idea of state capture is an imaginary concept created by the media. “It is mind capture, it is media capture,” he said.
“As far as I am concerned, I am a friend only (to Zuma),” he said.
The so-called state capture has put under pressure, the Gupta and Zuma surnames as speculations rise from various quarters, with mixed feelings here and there; some saying there’s no smoke without fire, others countering that it’s a smokescreen.
However, Gupta said neither he nor his brother have ever met Finance Deputy Minister Mcebisi Jonas.
“Atul Gupta was overseas at the time they told (us we had allegedly met Jonas),” he said. “I can say I have never seen him in my life.
“By the way, he (Atul) never, never meets with most of the politicians. He (was) always busy in his business. He is an administrator; he do his business only.” Ajay Gupta said.
When asked if he had had meetings with cabinet members and what they talked about if he had, he answered: “Many times.” “So many things.”
He said the first time he started having meetings with cabinet ministers was during former president Thabo Mbeki’s advisory forum about 10 years ago and that Naspers chairperson Koos Bekker was also present. “We (would) all sit together and discuss the country and what best we can do for the country,” he said.
Asked if there was a conspiracy, he replied: “Ah, not at all, not at all. I will never say this thing. Everybody do his own work, (their) own thing.”
Ajay Gupta however went on to explain why the family members resigned from all their positions in the Oakbay companies.
“(It was) very interesting in our life when we resigned,” he said.
He asked his team “what is the problem” and they said “the problem is the Gupta name”.
“So I said let’s go, let us resign – you run the business.
“Now the boss is Nazeem (Howa); not me or anybody else. So, he’s very happy.
“Only 1% of our business is with government. So how (can) we capture, I don’t understand,” he said.
“People don’t want to listen.
“Meeting (politicians) is not a problem at all and I (am) not going to deny (it); I’m never going to deny anything that… we did.”
Though the family claimed not to have received any indication that they are being investigated for state capture and the Hawks claimed not investigating the family alongside three ministers on corruption charges, the Hawks seems to have resumed the investigation proper.
The authorities were asked to investigate state capture after Jonas and former MP Vytjie Mentor claimed the Guptas offered them ministerial posts.
The allegations are that Zuma and the Guptas are using government officials and ministers to get key government tenders in the energy, transport and media sectors.
Weeks back, the Public Protector requested for more fund to conduct investigation into government state capture, while the Hawks are busy with an inquiry into three affidavits brought to them by the Democratic Alliance, Cope and Mentor.