Former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as well as other prominent ANC politicians have enjoyed close relationships with the Gupta family and yet they have not faced the same public scrutiny as Jacob Zuma.
These were the words uttered by former president Zuma while giving his testimony before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Monday.
The visibly irate Zuma said the reason he was spilling the beans on other high profile ANC leaders’ involvement with the Gupta family was as a result of him being “provoked and provoked to the last degree”.
“I have kept my peace because I have held the best interests of the organisation and the country at heart,” said Zuma.
He went on to reveal that many ANC individuals had enjoyed a relationship with the Guptas.
“I was introduced to them (the Guptas) while one of the brothers was an adviser to the president (he did clairfy whether he was referring to Mandela or Mbeki).”
“I had a relationship with the Guptas, just like Mbeki before me and even former president Nelson Mandela. I don’t understand why my relationship with this family should be the only one singled out and criticised,” said Zuma.
He said he did not understand why people scrutinise his relationship with the Guptas when their relationship with Mbeki was “more stronger” whereas his was purely “just friends”.
Zuma said the “family hosted numerous functions and invited a lot of people” and he like many other political heavyweights attended them without reservations as they were colleagues.
According to Zuma the Guptas were also instrumental in accommodating and employing one of his sons, Duduzane, after he had struggled to secure employment “especially in government”.
Zuma testified of how his son Mxolisi ‘Saady’ Zuma had lost his job as a result of a company he was working for “asking him to leave” because other companies would not do business with it because of the young Zuma being in their ranks.
He also spoke of how Duduzane had unsuccessfully sought employment in government and failed to get a job because of being Zuma’s son.
The former president was giving testimony before the commission after being requested by the commission’s legal team to avail himself and offer his version of events.
The request came after Zuma was implicated directly by eight witnesses.