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Gigaba's 'suspicious' gifts from Guptas, Russian ambassador

Apr 06 2017 13:57
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has received a number of gifts from Gupta-owned company Sahara and the Russian ambassador, dating back from the time that he was an ANC Member of Parliament. 

In 2006 and 2007, he received a bouquet of snacks from Sahara and in 2008 a “royal crystal rock bowl” from the same company “in celebration of Diwali”, according to the Register of Members’ Interests.

In 2006, 2007 and 2014 (when Gigaba was appointed public enterprises minister) he was given a bottle of vodka from the Russian ambassador and in 2016, in his capacity as former home affairs minister, he received wine from the ambassador. 

At the time of publication, Fin24 had received no response from Gigaba's office to requests for comment on the gifts. 

Democratic Alliance shadow minister of finance David Maynier told Fin24 there is “something suspicious” in the minister’s declarations, as far as gifts from Sahara are concerned. 

“I’m less interested in what has been disclosed than in what may not have been disclosed. The minister is open about the fact that he has met the Guptas. But strangely, the Gupta gifts come to an end before he becomes a minister. Something just doesn’t add up here.”

READ: Gigaba admits: I celebrated Diwali with the Guptas

Maynier added that Gigaba seems “pretty cosy with the Russians”. 

“Which is a worry, when you think of nuclear.” 

Fin24 earlier reported that Gigaba admitted to meeting the Gupta family, but emphasised that they have no influence on the decisions he takes. “As I meet many other business people, it does not mean I have a relationship with them,” he said at a media briefing held on Tuesday.

“Meeting someone does not mean they have an impact on your decisions. Ultimately I take my own decisions.”

He said that he has visited the family and celebrated Diwali with them, as he has celebrated other religious events hosted by other people at their homes.

Since his appointment to the Finance Ministry on March 31, there have been a number of reports about Gigaba’s closeness to the Guptas. The South African Communist Party (SACP) is among a number of entities which believe Gigaba was appointed solely to “do the Gupta family’s bidding at the Treasury”.

READ: Gigaba will do Guptas' bidding - SACP

"The Guptas have almost, now with the removal of [Finance Minister] Pravin Gordhan, ensured that they have unfettered access to the resources at Treasury," SACP second deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said on Friday.

Gigaba’s appetite for nuclear 

In addition, Gigaba is also purportedly in favour of a nuclear build programme in South Africa and Russia is reportedly in a good position to be one of main winners if South Africa goes ahead with its nuclear plans.  

The new finance minister said publicly that South Africa’s plans for a nuclear build programme are still on track and the question of affordability is yet to be determined.

He reiterated that the nuclear build programme will be implemented at a scale and pace the country can afford. He also said the programme is part of government’s attempts to diversify the energy mix and make it environmentally friendly in the light of climate change.

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