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Zuma dodges questions over alleged visit to Gupta home

Zuma was asked by the Democratic Alliance whether he visited the family’s Saxonwold compound.

President Jacob Zuma addresses the National Assembly in Parliament. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has dodged answering a Parliamentary question about whether he visited the Gupta family's Saxonwold home ahead of appointing Mosebenzi Zwane as minister of mineral resources.

Zuma was asked by the Democratic Alliance (DA) whether he visited the family's Saxonwold compound on 20 September last year and whether there were discussions about the subsequent Cabinet reshuffle.

In a written reply to the DA's question, Zuma gives no answers, except to refer to the Public Protector's current investigation into allegations of state capture, which include claims of the Gupta family's undue influence over Cabinet appointments.

Zuma says simply that the Public Protector has informed the Presidency of complaints and requests that she investigate and that the investigation is still continuing.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's probe includes determining whether or not Zuma is in breach of the Executive Code of Ethics through a possible conflict of interest, abuse of his position or potentially compromising the integrity of his office.

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas earlier this year said he'd been offered Treasury's top job by a member of the Gupta family.

DA REACTS

The DA says the president could have just said no to the parliamentary question on whether he visited the Gupta family's home ahead of naming Mosebenzi Zwane as mineral resources minister last year.

The DA's James Lorimer says he submitted the question several months before Public Protector Thuli Madonsela confirmed her probe was going ahead.

If the president didn't discuss Cabinet appointments with the Gupta family, he should have no problem giving a clear answer, Lorimer said.

"If he hadn't been there, he could very easily have just said no, and yet this [question] kicked around for about four months before he finally answered."

Lorimer says he believes Zuma's response indicates that he did visit the Gupta family's Saxonwold compound in September last year.

"Had he admitted to that, of course it would have led to a whole lot more questions, which would have been, 'Why were you there, what did you discuss, did you discuss the appointment of Mosebenzi Zwane and who made the decision to appoint Mosebenzi Zwane as minister of mineral resources, was it in fact the Guptas, or was it president Zuma?'"