Unfazed Zuma adamant Gupta, Jonas scandal has nothing to do with him

2016-03-17 18:01
(Picture via YouTube)

(Picture via YouTube)

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WATCH: When Zuma met Gupta - a family history

2016-03-18 06:52

Revelations this week of former and current MP's allegedly being offered ministerial roles by the Guptas have rocked South Africa. Who exactly are the Guptas? What has enabled them to flex political muscle? Watch. WATCH

Cape Town – An unfazed President Jacob Zuma fielded questions in Parliament on Thursday about his dismissal of former finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, and the ongoing scandal involving the Gupta family.

Despite a slow start, the president was his usual jovial self during the question and answer session, where opposition parties had hoped he would reveal who had influenced his decision to fire Nene.

And squaring off with DA leader Mmusi Maimane did nothing to dampen his mood, with Zuma laughing as the opposition caucus walked out of the House during the session.

The EFF did not attend the sitting.

Zuma was adamant that the recent allegations of the Gupta family offering Cabinet posts to ANC politicians had nothing to do with him.

No consultation needed

Quoting the Constitution, the president said he did not need to consult anyone on the hiring or firing of ministers and deputy ministers.

Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas on Wednesday revealed he had been offered the finance minister post by the Guptas, and had turned them down.

Asked about the influence of the Gupta family, Zuma said he hired ministers, not the Guptas. 

"Go ask the Guptas, and Jonas, it has nothing to do with me. Where do I come in? Ask the people he said offered him the job," he said.

The only position he had ever offered Jonas was that of deputy minister, said Zuma.

He told Parliament there were valid reasons behind the removal of Nene, and rubbished claims that his actions had led to the downfall of the rand. He said the rand had already been on a downward spiral before Nene was fired.

Zuma also answered questions on SA social security agency grants. The president was asked if he would consider establishing a commission of inquiry into illegal deductions, but he said that would be a step back.

Hungry voters

Asked to ensure that ANC members did not give out food parcels and grants during election campaigning, Zuma questioned if the process should stop because it’s an election year.

"Why? How are they going to vote hungry? I don’t know how that goes, so to ask me to discourage ANC members from doing this? How am I going to judge? Must I say don’t give hungry people food?"

The president was also questioned on higher education, and assured Parliament that it was a government priority.

DA walkout

Earlier in the day, DA leader Mmusi Maimane was ordered to leave the House when he disputed Zuma's theory that the rand was already on the skids before he removed Nene as finance minister last year.

But Maimane was not having it and annoyed Speaker Baleka Mbete when he interrupted Zuma's statement with a point of order, saying he did not accept Zuma's explanation.

He was ordered to leave, and his caucus left with him.

In a statement released afterwards, Maimane said Zuma was treating Parliament as his own lapdog.

"The president completely avoided answering the question of whether he in fact did consult anyone, and instead quoted sections of the Constitution which empower the head of executive to appoint and dismiss cabinet ministers," Maimane said. 

"In addition to this, the president then astonishingly implied that his decision to fire former Minister Nene had a negligible impact on our economy and the tanking of our currency, as the rand was 'already in decline'."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  mcebisi jonas  |  gupta family  |  cape town  |  politics

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