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Speaker refuses debate on Zuma Inc

The speaker of the national assembly, Max Sisulu, has refused to allow Parliament to debate the business dealings of president Jacob Zuma’s family and friends.

On Thursday, DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip released a statement condemning Sisulu’s decision as “just plain wrong”.

In a letter to Trollip dated 16 August, Sisulu refused permission for the “snap debate” arguing that the request was not “specific or definite, nor does it deal with a matter for which the government can be held responsible”.

Sisulu recommended the DA take other parliamentary “avenues” to “raise matters of political concern.”

But Trollip rejected this saying that “reported abuses of power by state officials awarding government deals to individuals connected to the president is a matter involving government”.

“If, as reports suggest, the president’s family and friends are being favoured in government tender processes, it is a matter of profound national importance,” said Trollip.

“It is therefore appropriate for Parliament to interrogate the extent of the problem.”

The DA also said its request for the debate had been well defined, explicitly setting out the specific allegations involving the president’s friends and family.

Trollip said the party had requested answers on the following issues:

  • When the president became aware of businessman Roux Shabangu’s involvement in the SAPS lease deals, and whether he had any concerns about Shabangu’s involvement;
  • Why an inexperienced company, namely Aurora Empowerment Systems — where Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma is a director, was named the preferred party to take over the Pamodzi mines;
  • Why an inexperienced company, Imperial Crown Trading, to which Zuma’s son, Duduzane is linked, was controversially awarded prospecting rights to a residual share of the Sishen iron ore mine; and
  • How Zuma’s son-in-law Lonwabo Sambudla came to be involved in a controversial R1-billion state tender for new government office space.

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Lynley Donnelly
Lynley Donnelly
Lynley is a senior business reporter at the Mail & Guardian. But she has covered everything from social justice to general news to parliament - with the occasional segue into fashion and arts. She keeps coming to work because she loves stories, especially the kind that help people make sense of their world.

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