Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has detailed the instances where he declined requests to meet the controversial Gupta family, including at their Sun City wedding.
This emerged on Monday in a written reply to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Michael Bagraim who had wanted to know whether Patel was influenced by any person and/or influenced any of his department’s employees to do favours for the Guptas or their close associates.
He had also inquired whether the minister attended any meeting where Guptas or their associates were present.
In his reply, Patel said members of the Gupta family were present at public or official functions or meetings that he attended, and as with other attendees, engaged with him at the events between 2009 and 2014. He also said there were occasions where invitations or requests were directed at or received by him or by his office for bilateral meetings with members of the Gupta family.
“In approximately late 2011, my office received a request from a member of the Gupta family to meet with me. As no information was provided to warrant a meeting with me, I declined the request and directed my office to refer them to meet with one of my officials instead, as is standard practice,” Patel said. “They did not take up the offer and no further effort was made by them subsequently to follow up on this request.”
He also said personal invitations to celebrate Diwali were received on more than one occasion, which he declined.
“Sometime in early 2013, I received an invitation to attend a wedding involving relatives of the Gupta family in Sun City, which invitation I declined,” he said. Patel also revealed that businessmen and Gupta associate Duduzane Zuma came to introduce himself at his offices in Parliament in February 2010 on the day of the State of the Nation address. “No specific request was made by him at the meeting,” said Patel.
With the exception of Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, several ministers have in their responses given “no” or “not applicable” to questions on being influenced by Guptas.
Meanwhile, the ethics and member’s interests committee is hoping to finish all the complaints lodged against parliamentarians. Co-chairperson Omie Singh said with elections to be held in six months’ time, they expected more complaints.