The confirmation from Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas that the Guptas offered him the finance minister job, could see the politically-connected family facing disciplinary action by their ANC branch in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
A senior branch official, who asked not to be named, confirmed to News24 on Wednesday that Atul Gupta, his wife, Chetali and brother, Rajesh, also known as Tony, were ANC members.
“This is obviously new. We haven’t really discussed it and taken a view, but it’s something we take very seriously,” the official said.
“It is something we have to look at and see if there is anything merited.”
This is not the first time a member of the Gupta family has faced disciplinary action from its ANC branch.
In 2013, Business Day reported that the branch intended instituting disciplinary proceedings against Atul Gupta for allegedly bringing the ruling party into disrepute.
The charge followed the landing of a private aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base before a family wedding.
However, the senior branch official who spoke to News24 on Wednesday night, said that disciplinary action was dropped.
“That eventually just went up in the air.
There’s just a lot of things which came into play. [We decided] to resolve the whole matter and let it go out.”
When asked if this was because of pressure from high up in the ANC, the official said no.
“It just took on a life of its own… some dynamics came up and we thought it better to just make it go… It was just tearing the branch apart.”
He would not go into details about what had happened.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Jonas confirmed that “members of the Gupta family offered me the position of Minister of Finance to replace then-Minister Nene”.
He said he had rejected the offer 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,” said Jonas.
The Gupta family has since dismissed Jonas’s claim and challenged him to provide proof of the meeting.
“These latest allegations are just more political point scoring between rival factions within the ANC,” the Guptas said in a statement.
“To be clear: any suggestion that the Gupta family or any of our representatives or associates have offered anyone a job in government is totally false.”
This is not the first time the Guptas, who have close ties with President Jacob Zuma, his family and other ANC leaders, have allegedly tried to influence Cabinet appointments.
Former ANC MP and caucus chairperson, Vytjie Mentor, alleged that she was offered the job of public enterprise minister by the Guptas in 2010, while Zuma was sitting in another room, at their Saxonwold mansion.
Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula complained at a meeting of the party’s national executive committee meeting, that he had been told by the Guptas of his cabinet appointment. – Genevieve Quintal, News24