Cape Town - Oakbay Investments on Sunday hit back at a report claiming President Jacob Zuma directly phoned ex-GCIS CEO Themba Maseko to ensure he helped the Gupta brothers.
Oakbay Investments is the holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses in South Africa.
“We are bemused by Mr Maseko’s six-year-old allegations, which are totally unfounded. It is clearly part of an ongoing, coordinated campaign involving others, to continue an already vicious politically-driven attack, using the Gupta family as a proxy," said Oakbay CEO Nazeem Howa in a statement.
The Sunday Times reported that the former head of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has fingered President Jacob Zuma as having played a key role in driving state business to the Gupta family.
The report said Maseko claimed Zuma had arranged a meeting for him to “help” the Guptas.
The allegations followed similar allegations the past week in which Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas alleged he was offered Nhlanhla Nene's post ahead of 9/12 and former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor claimed she was offered the position of Minister of Public Enterprises in exchange for dropping the SA India route in favour of the Guptas.
Howa said as a senior government official at the time of the alleged incident, "surely Maseko would have followed the accepted regulations and responsibilities that came with his role and reported what amounts to serious allegations to the appropriate responsible officials, including his Minister".
The allegations came ahead of and as the ANC's National Executive Committee met to discuss among other things a possible recall of President Jacob Zuma.
The president's backers reportedly fought against those detractors who were expected to lead calls for Zuma's censure and possible recall.
"We are keen for Mr Maseko to confirm that this was done at that time in keeping with the legal responsibilities he had as an official of GCIS."
Maseko told the Sunday Times when he met the Guptas they asked the GCIS to spend state money on advertising in The New Age newspaper.
The family is purported to have said that they could exercise influence over ministers to buy advertising in the newspaper.
When Maseko declined a follow-up meeting, a heated exchange between him and Ajay Gupta is said to have ensued, with the latter saying: “I’m not asking you, I’m telling you.”
Maseko was later shifted from his position as GCIS CEO.
“If Mr Maseko’s allegations are to be believed, The New Age would have received an extraordinary amount of government advertising post its launch, which the statistics prove is totally untrue.
“For the period from The New Age's launch on December 6, 2010 to December 31, 2011, (the period that Mr Maseko refers to) the paper received 1.8% of national government’s total advertising spend, which makes a mockery of alleged pressure to push revenue to The New Age.
“Despite TNA Media being a private company, we are taking the unusual step of releasing confidential company information, in the interests of full transparency. For the period December 6, 2010 to December 31, 2011 total advertising booked by GCIS into The New Age was under R2.5 million for the full period,” said Howa.
He added that both Oakbay and the Gupta family have full confidence in the country's constitution, and appropriate judicial and political processes, to ensure that the truth is exposed for the South African people.