Minister Nene: I owe you conduct as a public office bearer that is beyond reproach

By Janice Roberts

Minister of Finance, Mr Nhlanhla Nene

The following statement was released by the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, today.

Fellow South Africans, as you are aware, I gave testimony to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Wednesday, 3 October 2018, during which I made reference to the visits I made to the premises of the Gupta family businesses in Midrand as well as their residence in Saxonwold in Johannesburg. These visits took place during the period from 2010 to 2014, when I was Deputy Minister and Minister of Finance respectively.

Part of my duty as a public office bearer is to meet fellow South Africans and other stakeholders when they request to do so. However, I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in my office or at least a public place.

I say this being mindful of the fact that it is quite common practice, not only in South Africa but globally, for public office bearers to attend gatherings, including dinners, at residences of business people, fellow politicians, and other stakeholders. But context matters. As soon as I became aware of the controversy swirling around the family’s business dealings, I should, subject to there being a legitimate reason for doing so, have met Guptas, at my office accompanied, as is customary, by a Ministry of Finance or National Treasury official.

In return for the trust and faith that you have placed on me, I owe you conduct as a public office bearer that is beyond reproach. But I am human too, I do make mistakes, including those of poor judgment. However, it is reasonable of the public to expect public office bearers to own up fully and timeously to the mistakes they make in the course of carrying out their public duties. I should also have disclosed early, and fully, the details of these meetings, in particular those that took place in Saxonwold. I therefore failed to live up to these ideals. These visits do cast a shadow on my conduct as a public office bearer. I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness.

On the allegations currently in circulation about me and my family, I am glad that the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has undertaken to investigate them. I would encourage anyone who has evidence in this regard to hand it over to the Commission. As I said on Wednesday, I stand ready to assist the Commission in its investigation.

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