ANC Youth League (ANCYL) president Collen Maine has described reports of explosive e-mails alleging the former CEO of Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments, Nazeem Howa, reportedly prepared notes and gave him advice on how to respond to media questions as “utter rubbish”.
Maine, speaking to Talk Radio 702 on Monday, flatly denied the claims levelled against him after weekend reports detailed a series of leaked e-mails that showed the extent of the controversial family’s influence over Cabinet ministers and state-owned entities, and their CEOs and board members.
He said the e-mails were fabricated and he had a media team to assist him with media training.
“I saw the report for the first time yesterday [Sunday] in the newspaper and I would like to put on record that is utter rubbish,” Maine said.
“It’s not true … People can access my e-mails and check if there has ever been any communication between myself, and any of the Gupta family members and the referred person Howa.”
When asked by host Stephen Grootes if he had any special relationship with the Guptas, Maine said he didn’t have a formal or causal relationship with the family, alleged benefactors of President Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane.
“I don’t have a formal relationship with the Gupta family … which makes them even write speeches for me … I would not sit down with them and discuss things like speeches, whatever the level of our relationship.
“If they invite me for instance to the South African of the Year [Awards], that I will attend, just like I will attend the South African Music Awards,” he said.
Maine, however, was defensive when quizzed about reports last year that alleged the Guptas had paid for his luxury home in Pretoria. The family, according to City Press, had arranged with the Bank of India to grant him a bond of R5.4 million, which he did not qualify for.
“It’s quite unfortunate to want to me to divulge how I make my living. My salary alone, yes, it would have not paid the bond … I do other things in life. I’m not prohibited, for instance, from doing business,” he said.
“They don’t have anything to do with government, I don’t get any tender from government.”