Embattled Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has resigned.
According to a statement issued by the Presidency on Tuesday, Gigaba’s resignation has been accepted by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Minister Gigaba indicated in his letter of resignation that he was stepping aside for the sake of our country and the movement to which he belongs.
“Further to relieve the President from undue pressure and allow him to focus on improving the lives of the people of South Africa and for him to do the best he can to serve the country and save it from this economic meltdown,” the statement read.
Transport Minister Blade Nzimande will act as Minister of Home Affairs until a permanent appointment is made.
Later on Tuesday evening, Gigaba released a statement saying that his resignation was not an admission of guilt: “I did so after a long period of sustained and vitriolic public attacks on my integrity. I wish to state that my resignation is not an admission of guilt on my part.
“The integrity and public standing of the Government and the African National Congress of which I am a loyal and proud member is more important than any political office bearer,” Gigaba added.
In his statement, Gigaba said he had filed an application for judicial review of the Public Protector’s finding with respect to the Fireblade Aviation matter. The former minister added that he intended to “defend all other matters which resulted from my term of office as a member of Cabinet.”
On Monday the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) held a routine meeting where it is believed to have discussed Gigaba amid public pressure for him to be removed.
It is not yet clear whether his decision to resign was prompted by an instruction from the NWC.
Read former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s statement on his resignation and plans regarding the Public Protector’s findings on the Fireblade Aviation matter. pic.twitter.com/0wWfEVh3JW
— Mail & Guardian (@mailandguardian) November 13, 2018
In February this year the Pretoria high court found that Gigaba had lied about not granting permission for the Oppenheimer’s to operate the private Fireblade terminal at OR Tambo airport. The judgement was confirmed when the Constitutional Court rejected the minister’s appeal earlier this month.
Gigaba continued to make headlines when Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report confirmed he had violated the Constitution, the Executive Ethics Code and Parliament’s Code of Ethics by lying under oath about the Fireblade saga. Ramaphosa was given 20 days to take disciplinary action against his minister by Mkhwebane while speaker Baleka Mbete was given 14 days to refer Gigaba to the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests.
City Press reported that on Friday, Gigaba met with the president in a last-ditch attempt to save his job, claiming that the Oppenheimers were working hand-in-glove with the Guptas.
Gigaba has held several positions in government, from minister of public enterprises to finance minister and later home affairs minister.
Gigaba, in his position as home affairs minister, was involved in the early naturalisation of the Gupta family, a decision that is now the subject of a parliamentary investigation. However, Gigaba insisted at a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting that he only met the Gupta family for “social cohesion reasons” and was not influenced by the family.
A leaked Eskom report released earlier this month called for Gigaba along with former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown to be criminally investigated over mismanagement at the power utility.
The Democratic Alliance had also filed an application to the high court in Pretoria in October, challenging both Gigaba and Minister of Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini’s appointment to Ramaphosa’s cabinet in February this year.
Over the last few weeks, commentators have questioned whether the minister was likely to resign — sparked in part by the leaking of a video of Gigaba masturbating.