Friday, October 5, 2018
Johannesburg: Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has pleaded for forgiveness from the nation for privately meeting the controversial Gupta family at their residence and businesses between 2010 and 2014.
Nene this week testified at the ongoing Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Wednesday. During his testimony, Nene said he had made visits to the family’s businesses in Midrand as well as their residence in Saxonwold in Johannesburg.
In his letter to South Africans, Nene said the visits happened while he was the Deputy Minister and Minister of Finance, respectively.
“Part of my duty as a public office bearer is to meet fellow South Africans and other stakeholders when they request to do so. However, I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in my office or at least a public place. I say this being mindful of the fact that it is quite common practice, not only in South Africa but globally, for public office bearers to attend gatherings, including dinners, at residences of business people, fellow politicians, and other stakeholders. But context matters.”
He said he met the Gupta family at his official offices as soon as he became aware of the controversy swirling around the family’s business dealings. The meetings happened in the presence of either a Ministry of Finance or National Treasury official, subject to there being a legitimate reason for the meeting.
“In return for the trust and faith that you have placed on me, I owe you conduct as a public office bearer that is beyond reproach,” he said.
The Minister said he, too, was human too and made mistakes, including those of poor judgment. In the letter, he concedes he should have fully disclosed the meetings, especially those at Saxonwold, much earlier.
“It is reasonable of the public to expect public office bearers to own up fully and timeously to the mistakes they make in the course of carrying out their public duties. I therefore failed to live up to these ideals. These visits do cast a shadow on my conduct as a public office bearer. I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness.”
Regarding reports about him, his family and allegedly exerting undue influence, Nene said he was glad the matter was being investigated by the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
“I would encourage anyone who has evidence in this regard to hand it over to the Commission. As I said on Wednesday, I stand ready to assist the Commission in its investigation.” – SAnews.gov.za