Deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said he could no longer remain quiet about the Gupta family offering him the top job in the ministry.
Jonas on Wednesday confirmed he was offered the job of finance minister before Nhlanhla Nene was removed.
“We cannot afford to ignore the obvious impact these sentiments may have on our country and the resultant potential of undermining our moral authority. Neither can we afford to allow the attempts to capture the state to divert us from dealing with the challenges that our country faces,” said Jonas.
“History will judge us on the extent to which we have stayed true to the commitments we have made to our people through our public pronouncements and private conduct.”
Reports surfaced at the weekend that Jonas was called to a meeting with the Guptas and offered the job two weeks before Nene was removed.
The Sunday Times also reported that President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma was at the meeting at a Sandton hotel in November. The newspaper further alleged that ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte had offered Jonas the position a few days later.
The Gupta family has denied it offered Jonas the job.
However, Jonas on Wednesday confirmed it was the politically connected family who offered him the position.
“Members of the Gupta family offered me the position of minister of finance to replace then-minister Nene,” he said.
“I rejected this out of hand. The basis of my rejection of their offer is that it makes a mockery of our hard-earned democracy, the trust of our people and no one apart from the president of the republic appoints ministers.”
Jonas said he wanted to place on record that he did not have any discussion with Duarte about the finance minister job.
“I am committed to good governance, abiding by the constitution of our country and being accountable to our people who repeatedly express their confidence and trust in us, election after election.
“It is this constant state of awareness and consciousness, drummed into most of us throughout our service in the national democratic revolution led by the ANC, that has provided us with the moral capital and tools to apply sound judgement to navigate challenges that emerge in the natural course of societal leadership.”
He said it was through these “values and moral covenants” that he served the ANC and the country.
This is not the first time that the Guptas — who are said to have strong ties with Zuma, his family and other ANC leaders — have been accused of influencing cabinet appointments.
On Tuesday, allegations made by former ANC MP and parliamentary caucus chairperson Vytjie Mentor that the Guptas had offered her a ministerial job surfaced on social media.
The allegation was made on Facebook on Monday night in response to Democratic Alliance member Johann Abrie’s post about the Guptas allegedly offering Jonas the finance minister job.
She wrote: “But they had previously asked me to become minister of public enterprises when Barbara Hogan got the chop, provided that I would drop the SAA flight-route to India and give it to them.
“I refused and so I was never made a minister. The president was in another room when they offered me this in Saxonworld (sic).”
Despite her allegation, Zuma has claimed that he had “no recollection of Ms Mentor and is not aware of the alleged incidents in her career”.
On Wednesday, on return from her holiday in Thailand, Mentor rejected Zuma’s claim.
She listed an number of times that she had interacted with him.
The Guptas also once again denied offering Mentor any cabinet position.
Following the release of Jonas’s statement on Wednesday, Mentor took to Facebook to show her support: “Viva Cde Mcebisi Jonas! The truth shall set us free!”