/ 29 March 2016

ANC: DA’s claims of support for Gupta probe ‘delusional’

Former ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu has succeeded Stone Sizani as chief whip of the ANC. Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Craig Nieuwenhuizen)
Former ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu has succeeded Stone Sizani as chief whip of the ANC. Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Craig Nieuwenhuizen)

The African National Congress on Thursday rejected reports that it had agreed to support a Parliamentary probe into the alleged Gupta family influence over the government.

“The Democractic Alliance (DA) chief whip’s ridiculous claims in the media that ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu has agreed to the DA’s opportunistic proposal for Parliament to institute an investigation into the alleged state influence by the Gupta family are imaginary and baseless,” said the ANC in a statement attributed to the office of the party’s chief whip.

Former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor made startling allegations earlier this month that she had been offered a Cabinet position by the Guptas provided she was willing to divert business to them.

Mentor claimed President Jacob Zuma was in the next room at the Guptas’ Saxonworld residence in Johannesburg when the offer was made. The Guptas denied the allegations and Zuma said he had “no recollection” of Mentor.

The Guptas were placed under further scrutiny after deputy finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas confirmed earlier reports that he had been offered his boss’s job by the family.

The revelations have prompted several investigations amid fears of possible “state capture” by the Guptas.

The DA has since requested Parliament to probe the matter, but the ANC disputes reports that Mthembu agreed to such a move. Soon after his appointment as chief whip last week Mthembu was quoted as saying opposition parties have every right to call for a debate on state capture and the influence wielded in government by the Gupta family.

However, Mthembu’s office on Thursday said the ANC would not agree to such a probe.

“When asked by various media houses following his appointment whether the ANC would support a parliamentary debate on the allegations surrounding the Guptas, the ANC chief whip stressed that, as a general principle, Parliament as a forum for public debates should never quash multiparty debates,” the ANC said.

“However, each proposed debate should be subjected to the established parliamentary process for consideration and a decision by all parties.”

The ANC said only a “delusional misapprehension would interpret this clear assertion (on parliamentary debates) to mean the ANC chief whip supports the DA’s proposal for ‘parliamentary investigation’ into alleged state influence by the Gupta family”.

The ANC said the DA proposed a similar motion earlier this month in the National Assembly and it was rejected.

“Further, the allegations relating to the so-called ‘state capture’ are before some state institutions, such as the Hawks and the public protector, following requests for investigations by certain formations and individuals,” said the ANC, adding that “Parliament should not find itself in a situation where it is conducting parallel investigations”.