United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa says the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence would be the appropriate parliamentary unit to interrogate the Gupta family’s dealings with government because it has the powers to demand access to confidential documents from any state department or entity.
On Thursday, Holomisa wrote a letter to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, requesting that she direct the committee to conduct open hearings on the deals the Guptas had concluded with government.
“The committee has the instruments to get relevant information, including classified material,” said Holomisa, who is a member of the committee.
“It could also get information from state security services. They will give us that classified information; they cannot hide it.”
Mbete’s spokesperson, Mandlakazi Sigcawu, confirmed receipt of Holomisa’s letter.
Holomisa cited as the basis for the hearings various media reports and allegations that the Guptas had unduly benefited from several government contracts due to their relationships with government officials and those in charge of state-owned agencies. He said this was “undermining our economy and the country’s security”.
“We are talking about the actions of government giving out business in a way that could compromise national security,” said Holomisa.
The proposal piles political pressure on the Guptas, who are close to President Jacob Zuma and his family, as well as other senior national and provincial government figures.
It comes after the SA Communist Party described the Guptas’ operations as “state capture” and tabled the matter before the ANC national executive committee.
The Economic Freedom Fighters had also demanded that the Guptas leave South Africa.
The ANC met the Guptas on Monday and later said there was “an obsession” with the family.
“The risk about this obsession with the Guptas is that we miss the bigger picture in the economy, such as the British company Anglo American pulling out investments in the country or Mondi listing outside of South Africa,” said party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
Holomisa said Mbete had not given any indication as to how much time she needed to consider his proposal.
He had sent his letter to all leaders of political parties and chief whips, adding that he hoped they would assist in exerting pressure to get the matter investigated as soon as possible.
He said the intelligence committee would be able to determine whether state security services knew about deals involving the Guptas, particularly after reports had emerged that the affected political principals were in the dark about the alleged partnership between Denel and the family.
“If the public enterprises minister [Lynne Brown] does not know, then what is happening?” asked Holomisa.