‘South Africa’s former president has no links with Gupta family’

Johannesburg, April 12 (IANS) Former South African president Thabo Mbeki has no links with the Gupta family, under fire for allegedly exerting undue influence on the government, and did not at any point introduce the family to his successor, President Jacob Zuma, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation said on Monday.

In a statement emailed to Xinhua, the foundation denied allegations of any link between Mbeki and Indian-origin the Gupta family.

“In the last three weeks, we have noted news reports attributable to various persons claiming some link between former President Thabo Mbeki and the Gupta family,” the foundation said.

“We have agonised about this matter, avoiding to respond and thus descend to the lower depths to which the allegation desperately attaches,” the foundation added.

Mpho Masemola, a representative of the Ex-Political Prisoners Association, claimed on Sunday that Mbeki introduced the Gupta family to Zuma.

“Even if it were true that President Mbeki had introduced the Gupta family to President Zuma, unless it is alleged and proven that he did so with an improper motive, he would not be held responsible for whatever may or may not have transpired thereafter between President Zuma and the Gupta family,” the foundation said.

For Masemola to suggest otherwise is in fact to accuse Zuma of lacking the capacity to make his own ethical judgements, said the foundation.

With close links with Zuma, the wealthy Gupta family has been under fire for allegedly exerting undue influence on the South African government by offering cabinet posts to officials of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The foundation also denied allegations that a member of the Gupta family served as an economic advisor to Mbeki.

“No member of the Gupta family ever served in any economic advisory body during the time when President Mbeki served as Head of State,” it said.

It is nevertheless true that Ajay Gupta served on the International Marketing Council (IMC) board (now Brand SA), the foundation said.

Ajay Gupta joined the board of the then IMC by agreement of the board on the recommendation of then minister in the presidency, Essop Pahad, who rightly or wrongly thought that he had the skills, knowledge and capacity to facilitate the work of the Council, not because of his alleged proximity to the president, according to the foundation.

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