Mysterious 'illness' sweeps over parliament

"Where is Minister Gigaba?" (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

"Where is Minister Gigaba?" (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

On Wednesday, parliamentary committees were left waiting as both Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni cited illness as reasons they could not answer questions on Gupta naturalisation and state capture at Eskom respectively.

Gigaba sparked the ire of opposition MPs after he was missing in action during a scheduled question session to minister in Parliament on Wednesday.

The session was being held in the midst of a controversy surrounding the naturalisation of the Gupta family.

Gigaba said at a briefing on Tuesday that both Atul and Ajay Gupta were not South African citizens. Copies of Atul’s ID revealed in the #GuptaLeaks prove that he is in fact a citizen, while the Electoral Commission of South Africa confirmed earlier that he is a registered voter.

Before the second question was asked in the House on Wednesday, Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen rose on a point of order, and asked Speaker Baleka Mbete, “Where is Minister Gigaba?”

“We know he is in terrible difficulty at the moment,” Steenhuisen continued.

“I’d like us to please ask, tell us where is he hiding?”

Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Narend Singh said they had been informed at the chief whips forum, all peace and security ministers would be in the House on Wednesday.

Mbete initially said she had not received a letter requesting absence, as is protocol.

She said she shared the “concern” over the absence of absent ministers.

But 15 minutes into an argument over Gigaba’s absence, that saw both EFF MPs Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu kicked out, Mbete said she had just received a letter.

“He is not feeling well,” she explained.

Groans and laughs emerged from the opposition benches. Steenhuisen asked if that letter was quickly written up because Gigaba “was in a right mess”.

“I have no power over the veracity of the letter,” she answered.

The question session continued. — News 24