GUPTA SAGA: Min­is­ter, DG fail to pitch

They had to ex­plain Gupta saga to MPs

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

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.

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