Ministers are in the firing line
PARLIAMENT has become the latest battleground between supporters of President Jacob Zuma and his detractors.
The recent multiple committee investigations ordered by the House into the influence of Zuma’s friends, the Guptas, and their associates in government have put the ministers involved, who mostly support the president, on the back foot.
Portfolio committees of home affairs, public enterprise and transport are set to investigate the allegations of state capture by the Guptas.
Finance Minister and former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Minister of Public Enterprises Lynne Brown are among those in the firing line. Last week, fuming MPs summoned Gigaba to Parliament to explain the process of making some of the Gupta family members SA citizens.
Even Zuma said he was surprised that there were multiple investigations in Parliament, arguing that he would prefer a single comprehensive probe by the commission of inquiry he was setting up.
ANC secretary- general Gwede Mantashe told the Gauteng provincial general council that already four party members had confirmed the veracity of the leaked Gupta e-mails. They showed how the Guptas influenced appointments of senior board members to some of the state-owned enterprises.
One senior ANC MP said there was no agenda against anyone in the investigations by the committees.
Another party MP said the committees wanted to probe departments and ministers implicated in state capture. He said he did not read any political motive into it, except the identified departments and ministers. The committees tasked with the job were served with letters that they would have to undertake the task, he said.
House chairman Cedric Frolick yesterday defended his decision to set up the investigations into the allegations of state capture, saying there was no agenda against anyone ahead of the policy and elective conferences of the ANC.
Frolick said portfolio committees did not have deadlines unless they were making appointments to the boards of state-owned entities or responding to Constitutional Court judgments.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said there were issues that required urgent investigation and could not wait for a commission of inquiry.
He said Parliament was correct to set up multiple investigations because of the urgency in some matters.
“There are issues that can’t wait. If a minister shared sensitive cabinet information, that cannot wait for a commission,” said Kodwa. “We must investigate the veracity of the allegations because at the heart of them is the integrity of the state.”