Ajay Gupta allegedly offered Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas R600,000 in cash in a black plastic bag at his family compound in Johannesburg last year, on the day he offered Jonas the job of finance minister.
Gupta also allegedly promised Jonas a further R600-million, to be paid in instalments, if he agreed to “work with us”.
The explosive claim is believed to be contained in Jonas’s affidavit submitted to former public protector Thuli Madonsela as evidence during her state capture investigation.
Reliable sources said that Jonas claimed in his affidavit that “work with us” meant he was expected to push for the approval of the nuclear procurement programme, estimated to be worth R1-trillion, and fire some National Treasury officials who were critical of the programme.
He named the officials as director-general Lungisa Fuzile, his deputies Ismail Momoniat and Andrew Donaldson, and chief procurement officer Kenneth Brown.
The sources said Jonas confirmed in the affidavit that the Ajay Gupta offered him then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s job during their meeting in Saxonwold on October 23 last year. This was just six weeks before President Jacob Zuma fired Nene on December 9, replacing him with Des van Rooyen. A cell phone records showed that Van Rooyen visited the Gupta compound the night before he was appointed.
In his affidavit, Jonas allegedly adds that Gupta made the offers in the presence of Zuma’s son Duduzane and businessman Fana Hlongwane.
After leaving the Gupta compound, Jonas called Nene to inform him that he had been offered his job. Nene has given a statement to Madonsela confirming the phone call.
Jonas’s allegations are believed to have been reflected in Madonsela’s highly contested report on state capture.
Gupta lawyer Gert van der Merwe yesterday confirmed he was in possession of Jonas’s affidavit after requesting a copy during a meeting with Madonsela.
He denied that Gupta had been “in such a meeting with Jonas” and said he “has never offered the deputy finance minister anything”.
Van der Merwe added: “I have a complete and comprehensive version of what happened when the deputy minister was at the Gupta compound and this version can be corroborated by witnesses who are willing to testify under oath on the contrary to Jonas’s version.”
Madonsela refused to comment about the matter, saying she was no longer the public protector.
“The matter is before the court, which will decide whether the report must be released or not. Let us all respect the judiciary processes,” she said.