Senior SACP member downplays Gupta ‘political influence’

The SACP’s Senzeni Zokwana says the communist party entrusts Jacob Zuma to appoint ministers

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Senior South African Communist Party (SACP) member, Senzeni Zokwana, has told Eyewitness News the party does not believe that the Gupta family wields control over the appointment of Cabinet ministers and that their influence is overstated.

The Guptas alleged links to President Jacob Zuma and his decision to appoint ministers has come under scrutiny, following a report that Mcebisi Jonas was offered the finance minister's position by the family, before Nhlanhla Nene was fired.

The perception has also been bolstered by claims by former African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Vytjie Mentor, who says she was offered the position of Public Enterprises Minister in 2010, on condition that she made a favourable business decision for the Guptas.

The ANC says it needs to reaffirm its authority as the governing party in South Africa and has now admitted that the growing perception of the Gupta family influence cannot be ignored.

The party says the allegations that the family's influence which ministers or deputies are appointed, have damaged the credibility of the party, and its capability to govern.

The ANC also says that while it cannot ban its officials from meeting with the Guptas those individuals should not take any instructions from the family on how to run the country.

The party seems to have denied that its president is being influenced by the controversial family.

Meanwhile, Zokwana says the SACP entrusts Zuma to appoint ministers and finds the claims by Mentor hard to believe.

"We don't think that there is any truth in that because no family can have such power to decide who becomes a minister or not."

Zokwana says if the Gupta family does wield influence they have usurped power.

"I suspect that these people are using powers they don't have."

The SACP has previously warned against what it says is state capture by powerful families and Zokwana says the matter will be thoroughly debated at the ANC's upcoming meeting.

Mentor has dismissed claims that the president doesn't remember her saying the two of them have known each other for years.

This follows a statement from the Presidency in which it says Zuma does not recall Mentor serving as an MP.

I chaired the ANC National Parliamentary Caucus when President Zuma was a Deputy President. He sat next to me and spoke...

Posted by Vytjie Mentor on Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Posting new messages on her public Facebook timeline, Mentor has also made it absolutely clear she's standing by her claims relating to Gupta.

At the same time, Moody's rating agency has placed South Africa under review and is expected to decide if the country's investment grade should be downgraded after its visit this week.

While the Moody's officials meet with different stakeholders this week, there have been calls from Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) for government officials and politicians to refrain from public spats.

Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini says this threatens South Africa's economy.

"They keep saying ratings agencies and international investors are concerned but the same people in government are playing in the gallery of the media about their differences."


The former ANC MP has dismissed claims that Zuma doesn't remember her.

Posting new messages on her public Facebook timeline, Mentor has also made it absolutely clear she's standing by her claims relating to Gupta.

She says she has known Zuma since he returned from exile and the two of them sat in on numerous meetings together.

She goes on to list these saying some happened on a weekly basis and others twice a month.

Mentor goes on to say that she also worked with him - on the ground - in the Northern Cape and claims that Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe would never claim not to know her.

Her message ends with a promise of more to come.

As for the Guptas - she writes - 'I'm not done yet'.

The Gupta family has denied Mentor's claims that they offered her a ministerial job saying Facebook is not the medium to level such serious allegations.

To read the official ANC statement on the matter, click here.