‘Ajay made budget demands’

Former GCIS head Themba Maseko
Former GCIS head Themba Maseko
Image: Masi Losi

Ajay Gupta told former government communications head Themba Maseko that Jacob Zuma would “sort out” any minister who refused to hand over their advertising budget to him.

Ajay also boasted that Zuma‚ then president, had dinner with his family on a weekly basis and claimed that ministers were summoned by the president or to the Guptas’ Saxonwold home when they were not co-operating.

“He said ‘your only job is to ensure that the money comes to me and The New Age newspaper’,” Maseko said.

Maseko is giving evidence at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture about how Zuma urged him to help the Guptas and how, subsequent to this, Ajay instructed him to meet with government department officials and force them to channel R600m in government advertising spend to the family’s media interests.

Maseko said Ajay was enraged when he did not agree to a subsequent meeting, requested by Rajesh “Tony” Gupta.

Ajay had called him later and told him that he was being unco-operative and that he would report this lack of cooperation to his “superiors”.

Because of the previous call from Zuma‚ Maseko said he believed these superiors included the then president.

Months later‚ Maseko was fired by Zuma.

Meanwhile, Maseko says he is ready to testify against Zuma and Ajay in a criminal trial – and has welcomed the Hawks’ announcement that the case against the pair is under ongoing investigation.