Gi­gaba slammed for miss­ing meet­ing

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAY­I­BONGWE MAQHINA

FI­NANCE Min­is­ter Gi­gaba,

pic­tured, is far from be­ing let off the hook re­gard­ing the ex­pla­na­tion re­quired on the nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion of the Gup­tas.

This is de­spite the Home Af­fairs De­part­ment di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mkuseli Apleni ex­plain­ing to the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee yes­ter­day the law and pro­cesses fol­lowed when his for­mer boss used his dis­cre­tion to grant the nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion cer­tifi­cate to the fam­ily.

Gi­gaba and cur­rent Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Hlengiwe Mkhize ten­dered their apolo­gies for fail­ing to at­tend the meet­ing.

Even act­ing Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi failed to ar­rive in place of Mkhize.

Their fail­ure to at­tend the meet­ing sparked an­gry re­sponses, es­pe­cially from par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from the op­po­si­tion, who felt they could not hold the of­fi­cials ac­count­able, while those from the rul­ing party down­played their ab­sence.

The EFF’s Hlengiwe Hlophe said it seemed that the com­mit­tee was not re­spected.

“We want Hlengiwe Mkhize and the for­mer (min­is­ter Gi­gaba), who took this de­ci­sion of the early nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion,” Hlophe said.

ANC MP Deb­o­rah Ra­phuti said they did not dis­pute that the min­is­ters should have been at the meet­ing.

“Can we take a deep breath and… take the brief­ing from the di­rec­tor-gen­eral (Apleni),” Ra­phuti said.

“We must en­gage with doc­u­ments be­fore us and if there are any is­sues we can take for­ward. No one is run­ning away from this is­sue,” she added.

The DA’s John Steen­huisen in­sisted that the prob­lem was not with the de­part­ment but lay with the ex­er­cise of min­is­te­rial dis­cre­tion by Gi­gaba.

Steen­huisen de­cried the sti­fling of the Gupta probe and state cap­ture by in­di­vid­ual com­mit­tees.

“We ar­gued for a sin­gle ad hoc com­mit­tee. The com­mit­tee type of probe won’t be suc­cess­ful,” he said.

Pi­eter Mul­der of the Free­dom Front Plus said it was not for of­fi­cials to do the bid­ding of min­is­ters.

“Those min­is­ters should come and ac­count,” he added.

The IFP’s Si­bongile Nkomo echoed th­ese sen­ti­ments, say­ing the “main” peo­ple to ac­count were the min­is­ters.

“We need those min­is­ters. They need to be sum­moned,” Nkomo said.

She called on com­mit­tee chair­per­son Lemias Mashile to play his part in en­sur­ing that the min­is­ters were sum­moned.

Mashile said yes­ter­day’s meet­ing was not the first and the last. “We should not take the pos­ture as if to­day is do or die,” he said.

Brief­ing the com­mit­tee, Apleni said the Gup­tas had ap­plied for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion as a fam­ily of five – Ajay Gupta, his wife, Shivani, his mother, An­goori, and his sons, Ka­mal Kant Sing­hala and Surya Kant Sing­hala.

“It’s a choice to de­cide to ap­ply for nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion as a fam­ily or as an in­di­vid­ual,” he said.

Apleni also said two of the fam­ily mem­bers, Shivani and An­goori, did not meet the re­quire­ments.

He ex­plained that if one fam­ily mem­ber did not meet the re­quire­ments, the en­tire ap­pli­ca­tion was un­suc­cess­ful

Al­though the fam­ily was no­ti­fied that it could reap­ply in De­cem­ber 2017, the fam­ily had made an ap­peal to the then min­is­ter, Gi­gaba, to waive the re­quire­ments on their ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stance.

In their ap­peal for waiver, they cited the fact that they em­ployed 7 000 peo­ple and their in­vest­ment of R25 mil­lion in the coun­try’s econ­omy, among oth­ers.

“The min­is­ter with pow­ers vested in him de­cided to waive,” Apleni said.

He added that Gi­gaba had ap­plied his mind based on the rec­om­men­da­tion of of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing him­self.

Apleni ex­plained that the mem­bers of the fam­ily were sup­posed to have re­nounced their In­dian cit­i­zen­ship.

“All the fam­ily mem­bers ex­cept Ajay did re­nounce the cit­i­zen­ship. It means that Mr Gupta never re­nounced his nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion.

“Mr Gupta has not been nat­u­ralised,” Apleni stressed. “He is still a per­ma­nent res­i­dent holder.

“The peo­ple that nat­u­ralised are th­ese four (Shivani, An­goori, Ka­mal Kant Sing­hala and Surya Kant Sing­hala),” he said.

Apleni also said the de­part­ment was re­quired to have tabled the names of peo­ple granted cit­i­zen­ship by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion to Par­lia­ment, but that hadn’t hap­pened.

“The last re­port was sub­mit­ted in 2012. Since 2013, it was an omis­sion,” he said.

Apleni was adamant that the tabling of the names of nat­u­ralised per­sons was not a con­di­tion for grant­ing the cit­i­zen­ship.

“By not tabling, it should not be equal to null and void.”

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