Gigaba promises to explain Fireblade lies

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has reportedly promised to explain the ‘untruths’ he told in relation to his alleged granting of permission to the Oppenheimer family to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs met on Tuesday evening to ask Gigaba to clarify his role in the Fireblade saga.

READ MORE: No political campaign against Gigaba, says public enterprises committee chair

The committee had begun the meeting on Tuesday with chairperson of the committee Hlomani Chauke explaining that the committee was looking for proper accountability and for a way forward.

The committee had not planned to unpack the legal decisions regarding whether or not the minister lied in the Fireblade matter. “It [the committee] is not to reverse anything” Chauke said.

Gigaba, however, told the committee that the allegations that he lied in the Fireblade matter were “untested” and “inconsistent with the facts”.

“Before Constitutional Court and SCA [the Supreme Court of Appeal], there was not a question of whether I lied to court or not. It was a question of whether I approved the agreement or not,” Gigaba explained to the committee, Fin24 reported.

“The lies will be explained later. These allegations have been made in a very calculated way to influence the decision pertaining to this issue, even though they are immaterial.”

Gigaba has previously insisted he did not give the Oppenheimer family permission to offer a customs and immigration service at the airport in 2016. Nicky Oppenheimer, however, told Parliament’s home affairs committee last Tuesday that the agreement was made in a “cordial meeting” in January 2016. The family also admitted to paying R177 000 for services.

READ MORE: ‘Gigaba lied’ — Public Protector

VVIP terminals

Gigaba has called for public input with regards to awarding VVIP terminals to private operators, saying there is still no policy on private VIP terminals at airports. “The policy now has to be developed so that it can provide a framework for such issues going forward.

“We will consult with our cabinet colleagues,” Gigaba said, explaining that airports falls under the Airports Company South Africa.

Home affairs is only one of the parties involved at the port of call of a country, Gigaba told the committee. The department of transport was the other entity.

But a concern for Gigaba was which entity should be responsible to determine the policy with port of call entries: home affairs or the department of transport.

Gigaba asked the committee to clarify what the process for the VVIP terminals should be. “The entire process of awarding contracts and tenders in government needs to be clarified.” This discussion, Gigaba said, needed to be taken to Cabinet.

In awarding VVIP terminal access, Gigaba asked that the committee understand the nature of the different types of airports.

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