Johannesburg — President Jacob Zuma has defended his relationship with the Gupta family, saying South Africans can befriend whoever they want, Eyewitness News reported on Thursday.
During question time in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko asked Zuma why the Gupta family had direct contact with members of his Cabinet.
Zuma reportedly responded by saying any member of the public was free to contact any member of his Cabinet or the public service.
His administration promoted open and accessible government.
"It is because any member of the public within South Africa and beyond our borders is free to contact any members of my Cabinet, the executive, or the public service directly."
Independent Democrats MP Joe Mcgluwa reportedly asked Zuma: "Are you, Mr President, willing to cut your ties with the Gupta family?"
Zuma responded that everyone had the right to make friends.
However, that did not mean endorsing wrongdoing.
"We are not in the state that burns people because they are friends with others," Zuma was quoted saying.
"But we are also in the state where if there are specific issues that have affected either the interests of government or whatever, people will come back and say these are facts that say this thing has happened and therefore this thing is not good."