20 June 2017

South Africa: Parliament's 'Half-Baked' State Capture Probe Shields President

Photo: allafrica.com
Top: Title image of former public protector Thuli Madonsela's "state capture" report. Bottom-left: Atul Gupta and President Jacob Zuma. Bottom-right: Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The Democratic Alliance has slammed Parliament's directive that four portfolio committees quiz their respective ministers over alleged links to state capture in the #GuptaEmails.

Parliament announced on Monday that the portfolio committees on home affairs, mineral resources, public enterprises and transport had been directed to immediately engage with the respective ministers over the email leaks.

DA deputy chief whip Mike Waters on Tuesday said it was merely an African National Congress attempt to protect President Jacob Zuma, and that Parliament needed an ad hoc committee to look into state capture.

"The DA is angered by the... announcement by Parliament that a select number of parliamentary committees have been directed to 'urgently probe' allegations of state capture and report back to the National Assembly," he said in a statement.

"This is an ANC attempt to shield President Jacob Zuma and the executive from answering to serious state capture evidence."

The "half-baked probe" had been introduced by the ANC in bad faith and without any effort to gain multi-party agreement, he said.

"It is especially exasperating considering the ongoing discussions taking place in the Chief Whips' Forum... and the 'special meeting' of the forum which is scheduled to discuss, among other things, the Public Protector's State of Capture Report on Wednesday."

Parliament's plan would limit the scope to those four departments, and wouldn't include other issues involving, for example, the failed R600m attempted bribe of former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, he said.

Proposal ignores other parties

Waters said it was also unclear by what authority house chairperson of committees Cedric Frolick had issued the instruction on Thursday.

"Portfolio committees may initiate probes themselves or can be instructed to do so by the House; the Chairperson [Frolick] does not have that authority," Waters claimed.

The proposal ultimately ignored the opinion of 12 parties, representing millions of voters in Parliament, he said, and should have been brought to the Chief Whips' Forum.

"Furthermore, the investigation into state capture cannot be narrowly reduced to those four portfolios and cannot be effectively carried out by 'engaging' the concerned ministers, as several ministers are at the heart of the state capture allegations."

The DA would lobby support at Wednesday's Chief Whips' Forum meeting to establish an ad hoc committee into state capture.

The ANC was making the wrong choice and missing a golden opportunity to ensure Parliament was not again found wanting, as it had during the Nkandla debacle, Waters added.

Parliament 'shoulders responsibility'

Parliament spokesperson Molotho Mothapo on Monday said it was important to get to the bottom of the allegations, within the parameters of the Assembly Rules.

"While no specific deadline has been set for the submission of the outcome of these investigations, the committees have been urged to begin with the work and report their recommendations to the House urgently," Mothapo said.

It was Parliament's responsibility to shoulder the constitutional duty of ensuring that matters of major public interest were dealt with as expected by the people, he added.

The four ministers of the said departments are Hlengiwe Mkhize, Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown and Joe Maswanganyi respectively.

The home affairs and transport ministries, however, got new ministers in Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle in March.

The former ministers of those two portfolios were new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, and Dipuo Peters, who resigned from Parliament in April.


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