Former President Jacob Zuma says he doesn’t know why the Gupta brothers tried to put pressure on former Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) CEO Themba Maseko to allocate government funds to their media companies.
Maseko had testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture that Ajay Gupta often made harassing phone calls to him, saying he could get into trouble with his superiors if he didn’t assist the family.
Zuma was asked what he made of this behavior by Gupta – who often used his name to put pressure on people to work with the family.
“I wouldn’t be able to answer the question correctly because I really don’t know what made Mr Ajay say that. On operation, the senior who deals with all these things is the minister, not the president,” he said.
On Monday, state capture evidence leader Paul Pretorius asked if Zuma had tried to force Maseko to redirect R600 million of government advertising towards the establishment of Gupta-owned The New Age and ANN7.
Last year, Maseko testified before the commission, telling it how in 2010, on his way to a meeting with Ajay Gupta, Zuma called Maseko to help them.
Pretorius further read Maseko’s statement where he claimed that Zuma called him asking him to meet with Ajay Gupta.
The former president then said he may or may not have called Maseko, but he didn’t recall.
He said: “I normally called the DGs to discuss a number of issues. I can’t remember making this call.”
“But the issue of this newspaper, of the owners wanting to talk to the departments – but more importantly the department of Maseko – it is natural that they would want to talk to him. So there is nothing out of the ordinary, whether there was a call or no call. But I don’t remember making the call, because I made a number of calls.”
Zuma said even if he did make the call, he believed there was nothing wrong with that because Maseko was not forced, or pressured to do so.
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