Home Affairs DG questions authenticity of EFF's Gupta letter

2017-06-27 21:23
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Gallo Images)

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Gallo Images)

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WATCH: Portfolio Committee briefed on Gupta SA citizenship

2017-06-27 10:06

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs will be briefed on Tuesday morning on the naturalisation application process of the Gupta family. Watch the live stream above. WATCH

Cape Town - The authenticity of one of the letters released by the EFF, when it revealed that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had granted members of the Gupta family early naturalisation, is being disputed.

Two weeks ago, the Economic Freedom Fighters revealed that Gigaba had waived the residential requirements for the applications of Ajay Gupta, his wife Shivani, mother Angoori, and sons Kamal Kant Singhala and Surya Kant Singhala, for naturalisation and had granted it to them early.

The EFF provided two letters as proof. In the one letter, a home affairs official informs the Guptas that their citizenship has not been granted. In the other letter, signed by Gigaba, he informs them that their request for early naturalisation has been granted.

Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni told the portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday that the letter by the official included a date by which the Guptas could reapply for naturalisation. According to the department's letter, this date was 2017, which was the correct date. The date on the letter circulated by the EFF is 2015.

"The letter has been tampered with," said Apleni. "This letter on social media is not our letter."

He said the department had never circulated the letter.

Several MPs said the authenticity of the letter should be investigated.

EFF MP Hlengiwe Hlophe said the EFF was willing to accept that the department's letter was correct, unless there was proof that this wasn't the case.

She said Gigaba hadn't disputed the letter on June 13, and had said it was correct.

"Who is talking the truth between the minister and the DG?" she asked.

But committee chairperson Lemias Mashile cut her short.

"No, no, no, no. We don't have to proceed that way," Mashile said. He also disallowed Hlophe's question to the officials on whether they were put under pressure by Gigaba to allow the Gupta's early naturalisation.

'Disrespect is on the part of the executive'

The information Apleni provided to the committee also revealed that Gigaba's predecessors as ministers of home affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Naledi Pandor, had only granted two naturalisations per year, while Gigaba had granted 18.

Apleni also said that Ajay Gupta was not a South African citizen, as he had not renounced his Indian citizenship.

He conceded that it was wrong not to table the names of the naturalised persons in Parliament, which included people other than the Guptas.

"There was no malice on our part to say we're hiding something," he responded to criticism from opposition MPs.

"What about the others that were not tabled?"

Gigaba and his successor Hlengiwe Mkhize were due to appear before the committee on Tuesday, but neither of them showed up. Gigaba had "prior commitments" and Mkhize was overseas.

Opposition MPs were not impressed, but ANC MP Donald Gumede repeated twice that "Parliament should respect Cabinet," doing little to improve the opposition's mood.

"Maybe it's time for the executive to start respecting the Houses of Parliament," said Freedom Front Plus MP Corné Mulder.

"The disrespect is on the part of the executive," said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen, attending the committee on behalf of Haniff Hoosen.

'We will ensure that the minister of finance comes'

After the meeting, Steenhuisen released a statement decrying the absence of the two ministers.

"As a consequence, the committee gained no insight into why then-minister Gigaba overruled the department’s decision to dismiss the Gupta’s application for naturalisation, for failing to meet the prescribed requirements," reads Steenhuisen's statement.

"Instead, the Director General of Home Affairs only offered us what we knew already: that Gigaba had the discretion to approve the naturalisation of the Guptas and that he exercised this prerogative for reasons which remain unknown."

Steenhuisen said Gigaba should now be summoned to Parliament by way of a formal subpoena, to ensure his attendance and accountability.

"There is no way in which Malusi Gigaba can outrun the allegations which emanate from his tenure as Minister of Public Enterprises, Home Affairs and now Finance. He should take time out of his hectic press conferencing schedule and account to Parliament instead."

ANC MP Dineo Raphuti said the so-called Gupta Leaks emails should be investigated.

At the end of the meeting, Mashile said there would be further meetings on the matter, with Mkhize in attendance.

"We will actually also ensure that the minister of finance comes," he said.

"We should not be seen as if we are hell bent to find fault."

Read more on:    gupta familly  |  malusi gigaba  |  parliament

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