MPs call for Gigaba testimony after home affairs minister, DG fail to appear

Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni. (Gallo)

Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni. (Gallo)

On Tuesday, a parliamentary portfolio committee was set to grill Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and director general Mkuseli Apleni over alleged malpractice in the naturalisation of Atul Gupta and his family. However, Mkhize and Apleni failed to appear, citing a schedule conflict.

 The absences stand as only the latest episode in the state capture saga.

Last Monday, documents released by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) purportedly showed that former home affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba broke protocol when he waived residential requirements to grant the Guptas naturalised citizenship. Gigaba has since denied any misconduct, insisting “the whole process [was] handled by the book in terms of our laws”.

Unable to proceed with the committee’s agenda, MPs clashed in a series of heated exchanges.

Democratic Alliance and EFF members appeared to align as an opposition bloc, pushing back against multiple attempts by the ANC to postpone the meeting and its scheduled testimony.

The EFF’s Hlengiwe Hlophe asserted: “As members of the committee, we’re being told that even the DG is not coming … we were assured on Monday that the DG [would] be here to brief us.”

The discussion quickly shifted to whether the Parliamentary body could call Gigaba to explain his actions.
Demands for answers were met with a sharp rebuttal from committee chairperson Lemias Mashile. He insisted: “No, we’ve got no jurisdiction over him, he’s now the minister of finance. A person like him can only be invited if we’ve got an inquiry … we don’t have an inquiry, so we can’t invite him now.”

Hlophe responded by accusing Mashile of “defending” Gigaba and stonewalling the state capture probe.

In an apparent bid to ease tension, ANC member Maesela Kekana called for solidarity in the body’s pursuit of justice.

“For sure as all of us as members of this committee, we are not here to compromise our integrity. We are not here to defend anybody. I propose let us make sure that we summon the minister and the previous minister and the DG to come ... They must know they [are accountable] here.”

Despite initial objections from Mashile, the committee agreed to call Apleni, Mkhize and Gigaba for testimony in a week’s time. 

Peter Rothpletz

Peter Rothpletz

Peter Rothpletz is an undergraduate at Yale University, where he serves as a special correspondent for a handful of publications on campus and the M&G Read more from Peter Rothpletz

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