Johannesburg — The Prime Minister of Lesotho Thomas Thabane has defended his decision to issue members of the Gupta family with diplomatic passports and rejected opposition demands to withdraw them, the Star reported on Monday.
He said he appointed the Gupta family to market Lesotho in countries where they have "influence", and to secure investments for the country.
"These people (the Guptas) are good friends of the ANC and we have good relations with the ANC," he told The Star's Foreign Service.
"I was introduced to them by ANC president [Jacob Zuma] and other ANC officials... I then appointed them to help scout for investment in my country. They have influence in a number of countries that can help Lesotho."
They said they would find investors for Lesotho.
Insinuations that he favoured the Guptas in exchange for personal returns were wrong and unacceptable.
"...Check with all the banks the world over... I have not received money from them...
"I am merely using my office to get developments going for my country."
He defended the Guptas as "solid business-people" with a good track record in both business and assisting South Africa's ruling African National Congress.
According to the report, the Guptas also wanted to invest in mining in Lesotho, and Thabane was facilitating this.
The Guptas caused an uproar when a plane, chartered by the family and carrying 270 guests to a wedding at Sun City, landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base in April last year.