Daniel Friedman
2 minute read
30 Aug 2018
12:27 pm

Zuma told Maseko to ‘help’ Guptas

Daniel Friedman

Before his meeting in which Ajay Gupta instructed him to ensure the CGIS contributes R600m to fund The New Age and ANN7, Jacob Zuma allegedly called Themba Maseko and instructed him to help the Guptas.

Former government spokesperson Themba Maseko before testifying at the commission of inquiry into state capture, 29 August 2018. Picture: ANA

Former GCIS CEO Themba Maseko told the commission of inquiry into state capture that then-president Jacob Zuma phoned him and told him to “help” the Guptas.

In his testimony, Maseko described how on his way to a meeting with Ajay Gupta, Maseko received a brief call from the president at the time, who spoke in Zulu.

Roughly translated, Zuma issued an instruction that Maseko was to help the people he was about to meet. He was not told exactly what help was required.

Maseko mentioned finding the call unusual, and says it was “very clear the call was to give me a message”.

The former CEO then detailed his meeting at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold, which took place in September 2010, at around the same time Vytjie Mentor’s meeting took place.

READ MORE: Maseko lays bare Guptas’ ‘bullying, intimidation tactics’

Maseko says the meeting was brief and centred around the Gupta’s request that GCIS transfer R600 million to fund their newspaper and television station, the New Age and ANN7.

He also mentioned that the Guptas told him that the ANC wanted to set up its own newspaper, but they were going ahead with theirs in the meanwhile because while the party “talks forever about things, they do things.”

According to Maseko, he explained how GCIS funding worked, telling him that “If you want to do any business, you must go and talk to the individual departments.”

“He just cut me short and said ‘Listen, this is how things are going to work. You must go to all the departments, talk to the ministers, tell them to transfer the budgets into your account.’ By account, I think he meant the GCIS account, ‘and your only job is to make sure the money comes to me, and the New Age Newspaper'” Maseko said.

He added that Ajay Gupta boasted about his closeness to the president and their frequent meetings together.

Maseko says he reported the meeting to various people, including then deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, Reverend Frank Chikane, the late Collins Chabane, Joel Netshitenzhe and Essop Pahad.

Motlanthe, he said, reacted with shock, surprise and disappointment.

Maseko was replaced with Zuma loyalist Mzwanele Manyi in 2011, allegedly as a result of his refusal to comply with the Guptas’ demands.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.