GUPTA SAGA: Minister, DG fail to pitch
They had to explain Gupta saga to MPs
MPs want former home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba to come to Parliament next week to explain the process of making President Zuma’s friends – the Guptas – South African citizens.
Members of the portfolio committee on home affairs were left fuming yesterday, after Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and her director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, failed to pitch to explain the Gupta family naturalisation saga.
Although Mkhize and Apleni were scheduled to address the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), members of the committee had requested them to come and explain how the Guptas were given citizenship.
Gigaba, now the finance minister, went against the advice of a senior official of Home Affairs not to waive the naturalisation rules for some of the Gupta family members, who did not qualify for the status.
He has since denied that what he did was wrong.
But MPs are demanding answers.
The ANC’s Maesela Kekana said they could not compromise their integrity
“This director-general and the minister are disrespectful to this 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 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 of these high offices”.
The EFF’s Hlengiwe Hlophe complained that they were sent text messages urging them to come to the meeting early.
“We are here waiting for the director-general, because it is in the public interest…
“Even if the director-general was here to brief us, this matter needs the former minister of home affairs (Gigaba) to come and brief this committee,” Hlophe said.
“As a committee, we must be clear about what we want.
“The director-general is here in the parliamentary precinct.
“The director-general, after finishing with the NCOP, must come here,” she added.
The DA’s Haniff Hoosen also demanded an answer to his letter wherein he had asked that Gigaba be summoned.
“The department made an attempt to provide clarity. It is a fact that the decision is taken by the minister.
“I don’t know to what extent officials must answer on behalf of the minister,” Hoosen said.
Committee members said Mkhize and Apleni should come to the meeting since they were within the parliamentary precinct.
After a back-and-forth discussion, the portfolio chairperson Lemias Mashile asked that the department’s parliamentary liaison officer communicate the committee’s decision to Apleni and Mkhize for the former to appear and address them.
When they were informed Mkhize and Apleni were held up at the NCOP meeting, they resolved that Gigaba, Mkhize and Apleni be summoned to a meeting next week.
Mashile said the department was not to blame for them not appearing.
“They were scheduled to go to the select committee on social services of the NCOP. You can’t really blame them,” Mashile said.
“There was some sort of special arrangement (that they had to attend), but that did not work out,” he said in an interview.
Mashile earlier told the committee that the briefing by the department was mulled last week, after some members felt the Guptas naturalisation was a matter of public importance.
“It was known that they have a meeting at the NCOP and we agreed we will have the first 10 to 20 minutes for the director-general to brief us, hence the text messages so that you could be in time,” he said.
However, Apleni and Mkhize informed the committee on Monday they could not attend because of the pre-planned meeting with NCOP and the tabling of their budget vote.