'Concerned' Mbete writes to Mabuza over absent ministers

2018-03-08 17:12
Baleka Mbete. (Esa Alexander, Gallo Images, Business Day, file)

Baleka Mbete. (Esa Alexander, Gallo Images, Business Day, file)

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Cape Town – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has told MPs she has written to leader of government business Deputy President David Mabuza over ministers failing to appear for question sessions.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were both absent during a question session on Wednesday meant to be attended by ministers of the peace and security cluster, which their portfolios fall under.

READ: 'Sick' Gigaba bunks question session in Parliament amid Gupta citizenship controversy

Sisulu had authorised deputy Llewellyn Landers to act in her stead, but Gigaba had failed to send through a letter explaining his absence before the sitting.

Mbete told the House on Thursday that she "shared the concerns" over ministers not appearing to answer questions when scheduled.

According to Parliament's rules, ministers are allowed to be absent for House sittings, and deputies are allowed to answer questions in their stead.

"However, the House must be properly notified of this," she said.

"In light of the conflicting information of the availability of certain ministers and heightened tensions in the House, I ruled that three questions stand over.

"I have written to the leader of government business to appeal to him that ministers are able to carry out their obligations in the National Assembly."

The questions to Gigaba included his controversial answers relating to the naturalisation of the Guptas.

No notification from Gigaba ahead of sitting

The three questions will be first on the schedule of the next peace and security cluster question session.

On Wednesday, Mbete told the National Assembly during the session that she had not received a letter from Gigaba's department ahead of the sitting.

This after DA chief whip John Steenhuisen rose on a point of order to ask: "Where is Minister Gigaba hiding?"

ALSO READ: DA concerned about ministers not showing up for the 'new dawn'

However, 15 minutes into an argument with opposition MPs that saw EFF MPs Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu ejected, she said she was "alerted to a letter", purportedly from Gigaba.

"He is not feeling well," she said to groans and laughs from opposition MPs.

Steenhuisen asked if the letter had been quickly written up, because Gigaba "was in a right mess".

"I have no power over the veracity of the letter (sic)," Mbete answered.

Gigaba was not present in the House for business on Thursday either.

*CORRECTION: This article has been updated to indicate that International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had followed protocol in requesting leave of absence from the House.

Read more on:    baleka mbete  |  malusi gigaba

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