‘Pro-Zuma’ ANC MPs go rogue
Divisions have emerged in the ANC parliamentary caucus after a number of pro-Jacob Zuma MPs were accused of trying to dilute a looming inquiry into Gupta-linked state capture by asking that the inquiry also look at certain financial institutions, including National Treasury. The MPs approached Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, asking her to include Treasury, the SA Reserve Bank, the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Public Investment Corporation and the Financial Services Board, without informing their party bosses, the ANC said. ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu revealed this week that he was not aware of this action and distanced the ANC caucus from the MPs’ actions. ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte also denied instructing or encouraging the MPs to go to the Public Protector as two MPs had indicated to City Press. Two anti-Zuma MPs have claimed that the pro-Zuma faction is trying to minimise the impact of the Guptas’ alleged role in state capture and were deflecting in requesting the investigation of Treasury. The Public Protector’s office has confirmed a request for the state capture investigation to include major financial institutions. It subsequently emerged that a number of MPs and Cabinet ministers whose names appear as signatories on the letter to the Public Protector were apparently not part of the action nor were they aware of such action. These include Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. It is understood that 49 MPs signed the document. Confronted with a barrage of emails outlining a pattern of connections between the Gupta family, Cabinet ministers and the leadership of state-owned enterprises, the ANC has, for the first time, called on the government to act. At last week’s national executive committee meeting, the party accepted a proposal for the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture. One of the MPs who is a signatory to the request sent to the Public Protector defended the decision to go straight to the Public Protector without getting the blessing of the ANC caucus. “MPs have a duty to respond to the issues of their constituencies. We can’t take everything to the caucus,” said Loyiso Mpumlwana, who is one of the MPs who were called in to explain themselves this week. “It is true, we never discussed it in caucus and we don’t have to discuss everything in caucus,” he said. “We have constituencies, and this issue arose out of the things that were coming from the media and out of the discussions the finance officials discovered. They discovered that there are problems in finance. That needs to be investigated. “All that the MPs were saying is that let’s broaden the scope of the state capture [inquiry]. That’s not a big issue. State capture is unfinished business from the previous Public Protector. Now you see there are reports in the media that companies like KPMG received certain funds. If there are such things, it’s better that the Public Protector investigates them. It’s not a big deal.” Mpumlwana said there were in fact more than 90 MPs who are signatories to the letter and that the list was growing every day. He refused to say where the decision to go to the Public Protector was taken. Duarte denied encouraging anyone to go the Public Protector. She said that she met a group of MPs together with ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and that the group indicated that they had a memorandum to deliver to the ANC. “They informed us at the gathering that another group was going to the Public Protector. The group we met told us that they needed to go and update their memorandum and the meeting ended,” said Duarte. On Thursday, Mthembu and other senior caucus leaders met five of the MPs to hear their reasons for going to the Public Protector. “We called them to understand where they are coming from; what informed their actions so that through discussions we are able to find one another. We gave them ample opportunity to engage with the caucus leadership; they did engage. I wouldn’t like to go to the nitty-gritty of the engagement, but we engaged with them for almost two hours,” he said. Mthembu will report back to the ANC caucus “and we will take it from there”. He said he called the five MPs in after seeing them on ANN7 talking about the matter. “The mere fact that we called them in says a lot. If we were not worried, we would not have called them,” he said. The meeting was not a disciplinary hearing or about shooting down any ideas but to correct processes by caucus members, said Mthembu. “We all belong to a caucus, we are not free agents,” said Mthembu.
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