13 March 2018

South Africa: Guptas Say Eskom Inquiry 'Political Showboating' in Lawyer's Letter

Lawyers representing the Gupta brothers have slammed the credibility of Parliament's Eskom Inquiry in a lawyer's letter, saying it is an exercise in 'political showboating' with unfair questioning of witnesses.

The letter, a response from the Guptas' attorneys to an invitation by the committee on public enterprises to testify, also states that the Gupta brothers are not in South Africa at the moment.

"As it happens, our clients are not presently in the Republic of South Africa, being absent for business reasons. Accordingly, our clients decline the invitation to appear before the portfolio committee," it states.

The committee, which has for months been investigating maladministration at state power utility Eskom, had asked Gupta brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh to appear before it on Tuesday to testify.

On Monday the committee's chair said the Guptas' lawyers had sent her a letter to say the brothers are not in the country. She did not, at the time, reveal any of the additional content of the letter.

"The fact that Parliament would apparently ask our clients to trawl through evidence of other parties themselves to discern the issues to which they should respond and which are relevant to the inquiry before the portfolio committee, speaks volumes for the vague, disordered, uncontrolled and untrammelled nature of the inquiry," it read.

It also referred to the inquiry as the "so-called Eskom Inquiry".

'Showboating'

The letter also criticises the inquiry's chair for allegedly not having control of proceedings.

"The proceedings are to a large extent an exercise in political showboating by parliamentarians intent either on making political speeches, insulting witnesses or otherwise questioning witnesses in a manner which is not conducive to the resolution of identified or identifiable issues," it read.

The letter also takes aim at what the attorneys claim is unfair questioning of witnesses by committee members.

"Witnesses are subjected to unfair questioning in relation to issues which are totally irrelevant to the oversight inquiry. The witnesses are confronted with allegations which amount to nothing but conjecture, speculation and biased conclusions without any underlying evidence... Witnesses are humiliated and belittled at the will of politicians."

The committee's chair Zukiswa Rantho had not yet referred to the letter when the inquiry resumed on Tuesday.

Source: Fin24

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