Zuma: ‘Anyone can call a minister’

2013-06-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Any member of the South African public, also people outside the country’s borders, may contact government ministers directly.

President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly yesterday responded to a question by DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko on why ministers had direct contact with the influential Gupta family.

Mazibuko said she understood that Zuma had friends outside politics, but her question was how it happened that a culture existed in government where the president’s name could be mentioned by those friends so that government officials were ready and willing to act illegally and use the state’s money for private purposes.

Zuma, who seemed to have mistaken the gist of Mazibuko’s question as referring to the illegal landing of the Gupta’s chartered jet on April 30 at the Waterkloof airforce base, said the issue was being investigated.

Zuma has close links with the Gupta family.

To a question by Independent Democrats MP Joe McGluwa on whether Zuma was willing to cut his ties with the Guptas, Zuma borrowed Mazibuko’s words and said the president had the right to be friends with anyone. “We are not a state that bans people because they are friends with certain people,” he said.

Zuma added “we don’t act on gossip” and said he thinks no one wanted the Parliament to take decisions on gossip mongering.

Mmamoloko Kubayi, deputy chief whip of the ANC, wanted to know if Western Cape Premier Helen Zille had informed Zuma that she had had a dinner with the Guptas and whether he had a problem with that.

Zuma answered he did not have any problem with Zille’s visit to the Guptas, adding he did not know the nature of the relationship and did not want to speculate on rumours.

To a question by Papi Kganare, Cope MP, regarding a farm that the Free State government had allegedly given to a company belonging to the Guptas, Zuma said if Kganare brought him the facts, he would ensure that the matter was investigated.

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