Gup­tas: things fall apart

Pres­i­dent to face grilling as state cap­ture un­rav­els

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI, NONI MOKATI AND MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

THE SCREWS are tight­en­ing on the Gupta fam­ily, with sev­eral key events that could de­cide their fate.

To­mor­row, Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma will ap­pear in the Na­tional Assem­bly and is ex­pected to face tough ques­tions on his con­tro­ver­sial re­la­tion­ship with his in­flu­en­tial friends the Gup­tas. On the same day, the Con­sti­tu­tional Court is to rule on a se­cret bal­lot vote in a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion against him.

This comes as the cit­i­zen­ship of the Gup­tas faces scrutiny in Par­lia­ment, with Fi­nance Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba ex­pected to be quizzed over the mat­ter.

Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane has also given the Gup­tas a ma­jor blow by indicating she will op­pose Zuma’s bid to take the State of Cap­ture re­port on re­view.

Anger was pal­pa­ble yes­ter­day among some ANC MPs re­gard­ing Zuma’s lead­er­ship, sug­gest­ing they could vote for his re­moval if a se­cret bal­lot is granted.

Zuma’s power and that of his al­lies in the cab­i­net has been shaken in the wake of the Gupta emails, which have raised the stakes in the fight against state cap­ture.

Min­is­ters aligned to the pres­i­dent have been im­pli­cated in the email saga, as the ANC at Luthuli House, the party’s head­quar­ters, and Par­lia­ment, clamp down on them.

Yes­ter­day, Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane, another Zuma and Gupta ally, was ex­pected to an­swer tough ques­tions at Luthuli House over changes to the Min­ing Char­ter. Zwane was not present at the meeting.

The Cham­ber of Mines told some ANC of­fi­cials yes­ter­day that its lawyers were pre­par­ing le­gal action on the char­ter, ar­gu­ing that they were not con­sulted. They were ag­grieved that black own­er­ship in mines had been raised from 24% to 30%, among other con­cerns.

There are fears of more job losses in the min­ing in­dus­try.

ANC spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said the min­ing in­dus­try was al­ready shed­ding jobs at an alarm­ing rate and that the man­age­ment of the char­ter was vi­tal, as it af­fected em­ploy­ment and the econ­omy.

Kodwa said consensus had not been reached be­tween the par­ties and that there would be more talks with the cham­ber. These would also

in­volve Zwane, he said.

Kodwa said the ANC wanted to en­sure that ev­ery­one’s view was heard and that all part­ners in the sec­tor were fully en­gaged.

“We have met with the Cham­ber of Mines in the past on cer­tain mat­ters, but if it feels ag­grieved and peo­ple want to con­trib­ute at this point, then we have no choice but to al­low that.”

This comes as Zuma pre­pares for a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion in the Na­tional Assem­bly to­mor­row and a de­ci­sion by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court on the se­cret bal­lot.

The ANC cau­cus, led by Jack­son Mthembu, will hold a meeting to­mor­row be­fore Zuma’s ap­pear­ance to plan how to han­dle Zuma’s ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion and the Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­ci­sion.

Two MPs told The Star yes­ter­day that it was not guar­an­teed that ANC MPs would vote to save Zuma if a se­cret vote were granted.

“We are all in Par­lia­ment on a party ticket. But in this in­stance, there are ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances. This is a dif­fer­ent mo­ment. You can’t just stick to the party line when the same man is de­stroy­ing the party,” he said.

“If it is a se­cret bal­lot, the man is go­ing to be his­tory. We will be prais­ing and singing (dur­ing the ses­sion) even when we would vote against him,” he added.

Zuma’s al­lies in the cab­i­net have in­creas­ingly come un­der fire at Luthuli House and in Par­lia­ment.

Yes­ter­day, MPs wanted for­mer home af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba, another Zuma ally, sum­moned to Par­lia­ment next week to ex­plain the process of mak­ing the Gup­tas South African cit­i­zens.

Mem­bers of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on home af­fairs were yes­ter­day left fum­ing af­ter Min­is­ter Hlengiwe Mkhize and her di­rec­tor-gen­eral, Mkuseli Apleni, failed to at­tend a meeting to ex­plain the Gupta fam­ily nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion saga.

Although Mkhize and Apleni were sched­uled to ad­dress the Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces, mem­bers of the com­mit­tee had re­quested them to ap­pear to ex­plain briefly how the Gup­tas were given cit­i­zen­ship.

Gi­gaba, who is now the fi­nance min­is­ter, went against the ad­vice of a se­nior of­fi­cial of the depart­ment to waive nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion of some of the Gupta fam­ily mem­bers who did not qual­ify for the sta­tus.

He has since de­nied that what he did was wrong.

Yes­ter­day, MPs de­manded an­swers. The ANC’s Mae­sela Kekana said they could not com­pro­mise their in­tegrity.

“This di­rec­tor-gen­eral and min­is­ter are dis­re­spect­ful to the com­mit­tee. These peo­ple must come and clar­ify to South Africans about this mat­ter,” Kekana said.

The ANC’s Don­ald Gumede said it was im­por­tant to get as ac­cu­rate and up-to-date in­for­ma­tion as soon as pos­si­ble.

“The peo­ple to give that ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion are the di­rec­tor-gen­eral, the for­mer min­is­ter and the present min­is­ter in their ca­pac­ity as in­cum­bents to these high of­fices”.

IN THE HOT SEAT: Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

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