In a written affidavit dated September 2, Duduzane Zuma has said the infamous meeting at the Guptas’ Saxonwold home with former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas was to “clear up” rumours that Fana Hlongwane was blackmailing Jonas.
Duduzane Zuma has said that the infamous meeting at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound with former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas was to “clear up” rumours that controversial arms deal adviser and businessman Fana Hlongwane was blackmailing Jonas.
In a sworn statement submitted to the commission of inquiry into state capture, the former president’s son said “categorically” that, at no point during the meeting, was the position of finance minister offered to Jonas nor any threat made on his life.
The affidavit — setting out Duduzane’s version of events — dated September 2 was deposed to support his application to cross-examine Jonas. The application has been granted and it is expected that both Jonas and Zuma will be grilled on their versions, which are very different.
According to Duduzane, he met Jonas at the Hyatt hotel on the afternoon of October 23 2015, because “rumours were surfacing in general that Mr Jonas allegedly claimed that Mr Hlongwane blackmailed him (Jonas) in some or other manner. These rumours were regarded as very serious.”
The young Zuma gives no further details on the blackmail rumours, but said he had set out his version before — in an affidavit before the Pretoria High Court, in the application by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, then minister of finance, for a declaratory order that Gordhan could not intervene in the relationship between banks and their clients.
Duduzane said Fana Hlongwane was an “uncle” to him, “and with whom I had a very close historical relationship”.
Hlongwane wanted to “clear it up,” said Zuma — “as Mr Jonas also in his discussions with Mr Hlongwane wanted to know from me directly where these rumours were spreading or coming from”.
Initially, they were to meet at the Hyatt but Hlongwane asked for it to be moved somewhere private and the Guptas’ Saxonwold residence was agreed.
“At no stage, since the suggestion was made that the meeting be moved to the Gupta residence, did Mr Jonas either object thereto and/or express any reservations and/or display discomfort to having the meeting there,” states Zuma in the affidavit.
At the meeting, Duduzane said he “mostly played the role of a spectator and more of a mediator”.
At a point, Rajesh Gupta “quickly peered into the lounge … and called me to him to confirm my availability for a meeting to be held the next day”. He did not fully enter or participate in the conversation with Hlongwane or introduce himself, said Duduzane. Atul Gupta was overseas and Ajay Gupta was not there, he said.
“My observations during the meeting was that both Mr Jonas and Mr Hlongwane ventilated and discussed the rumours of the blackmail allegations, and eventually reached a stage where, although it was not fully resolved, the ‘dust settled’ between them, so to speak.”
He said his assessment of the meeting was that the issue between them was “not entirely resolved, but hanged in the air for further follow-up meetings”. He said he did not know if the dispute was subsequently resolved.
However, he “categorically” stated that there were no discussions at the meeting relating to the removal of the minister of finance, nor any offer to become minister of finance or of any money, “or any threats uttered towards Mr Jonas by anyone”.
Duduzane Zuma said that, after the meeting, he twice bumped into Mr Jonas — once at the Hyatt and once at a Parliamentary event. “I can state that on both these occasions, we had friendly interactions with each other,” he said.