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This came after local media reported that former SA Government Communication & Information System (GCIS) CEO, Themba Maseko was called by President Jacob Zuma prior to a meeting with the Guptas in Saxonwold, Jonnesburg and asked to “help them”.

newspapersAt the meeting it is alleged that the Gupta family wanted government advertising to be channelled to The New Age newspaper run by the Gupta family.

“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 Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, the holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses in South Africa.

“As a senior government official at the time of the alleged incident, surely Mr. 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. 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,” Howa said in a statement.

Both Oakbay and the Gupta family have full confidence in SA’s constitution, and appropriate judicial and political processes, to ensure that the truth is exposed for the South African people, the statement said.

“Finally, 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,” the statement said.

“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 percent of national government’s total advertising spend, which makes a mockery of alleged pressure to push revenue to The New Age,” said the statement.

Also on Sunday the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) threatened to lay criminal charges against the Indian Gupta family “for what now amounts to further prima facie evidence of an attempt to improperly benefit from public resources”.

“This latest information regarding Gupta attempts to channel information to their newspaper may now explain why it is that the Department of Communications spent more than 10 million rand (about 640,000 US dollars) on advertising in The New Age in 2013/14. This amounts to 11.2 percent of government ad spend across 248 publications,” the DA claimed.

Earlier this week, the former chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Vytjie Mentor publicly revealed that she was offered the job of Minister of Public Enterprises by the Guptas on conditions that she “drops the SAA (South African Airways) flight-route to India and give to them”.

Mentor’s utterances have led to several African National Congress members speaking out on similar encounters with the Guptas, including Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramathlodi and former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan.

With huge business interests in SA, the Gupta family reportedly keeps close ties with Zuma, his family and the ANC. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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