Lindiwe Sisulu on meeting with Gupta associate: ‘So what?’

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has come out guns blazing against a media report claiming she met with a businessman linked to the Gupta family during her trip to the Dubai Expo just recently.

Daily Maverick reported that when Sisulu visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on official government business, she shook hands with several business people, one of them being Hamza Farooqui, Salim Essa’s business partner. Anyone familiar with Guptagate would know that Essa has strong ties to the controversial family, having represented their business interests in South Africa. His name has featured quite prominently in the State Capture Commission – he is considered to have played a central role in how the Guptas unduly got their grubby hands into the proverbial cookie jar.

Farooqui himself also has business interests in the country and has recently opened two hotels here on home soil, the publication reported. Sisulu’s office has clarified before that Farooqui, together with other prominent business people, was part of meetings where the minister participated, with the aim to further grow UAE-SA relations in the tourism sector.

LINDIWE SISULU SLAMS DAILY MAVERICK ARTICLE

In a statement issued on Friday, 28 January 2022, the Tourism Ministry labels the Daily Maverick article as yet another form of “desperate prograpaganda at tarnishing her name.”

According to spokesperson Steve Motale, the Sisulu had no say in who she met as it was all organised by the Expo’s personnel. Motale says the report is a smear campaign which won’t sell and adds that most people Sisulu met were introduced to her and were selling South Africa as an ideal tourism destination.

“If one of all the people Minister Sisulu was introduced to might have been a friend of the Guptas, so what? Clearly some in the media are on a fishing spree for nefarious reasons and the pictures they have been using as those of a Gupta ally are unfortunately of a member of the Royal family and CEO of Emirates airline. This is the same media that when Minister Sisulu needs them on the side of what’s good for the country, they are nowhere to be found,”

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperson Steve Motale

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