- Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has denied reports that she met with the Guptas while on a visit to a convention in Dubai in December last year
- In a statement released on Thursday, Sisulu expressed that the allegation were been manufactured as a ploy to tarnish her good name
- Multiple media reports have claimed that Sisulu met with Gupta Lieutenant Salim Essa's one-time business partner and three other influential figures
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JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu is again in the spotlight, this time, over her alleged engagement with Gupta family associates while on a visit to the Expo 2020 Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in December last year.
Following the reports, Sisulu's spokesperson Steve Motale released a statement rejecting that a meeting ever took place between her, Salim Essa's former business partner Hamza Farooqui and three other leading figures.
The minister, who recently came under fire for her comments directed at the country's judiciary in an opinion piece published on IOL, described the reports over the alleged meeting as a "smear campaign" that is doomed to fail.
News24 reported that in May 2017, emails from the Guptas and their associates were leaked to the public implicating Farooqui, among others, as having worked with Bell Pottinger, a covert political operations PR company that employed unauthorized measures to craft a narrative that the banks constituted white monopoly capital.
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Hunt to dig up a scandal
On 12 September the same year, the company reportedly went into business administration stemming from the scandal caused by its activities in South Africa
"If only one of the people Minister Sisulu met happened to be a friend of the Guptas, then what? This smear campaign won't fly. Minister Sisulu has a long political career, and for certain media houses to concoct something they think will taint her image is absurd," Motale said.
The Citizen reported that according to the daily online newspaper Daily Maverick, Sisulu, in a published image, is seen flanked by two men at a table. Essa's name featured prominently in multiple Gupta business dealings during the Zondo Commission, but when called on to appear, remained notably absent.
"Certain media houses are on a hunting spree to find a scandal. The images they've been using as those of a Gupta ally are, in fact, of a member of the Royal family and the Emirates airline chief executive.
South Africans vouch for Sisulu
Locals once again headed to social media in their numbers to react to the reports. Many people seemed to side the Sisulu, even urging her to pay no mind to the media reports.
Briefly News sifted through the response to bring readers the various reactions.
@Alex Stemela wrote:
"Correction: Daily Maverick lies about Lindiwe Sisulu Gupta links."
@Cathi Watson said:
"How many times have we heard those same words uttered by many in the ANC???"
@Paul Basson added:
"This most probably come out with Zondo everyone that is now fighting the Justice system was involved in corruption."
Sisulu used state resources to call out Ramaphosa
The Tourism Minister issued another statement in response to the office of the Presidency's previous statement claiming she'd apologised for the hurtful comments she hurled at the Constitution and the judiciary.
In her statement issued on Friday, 21 January, Sisulu maintained she had no intention of apologising for what she said, adding the people at fault was Ramaphosa's media team.
Source: Briefly News