Cape Town – Minister of Home Affairs Hlengiwe Mkhize will not revoke members of the Gupta family’s citizenship if their businesses are sold and they relocate to Dubai, saying she wants the family to be treated with dignity.
During questions to the security cluster ministers, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi asked Mkhize what the exceptional business circumstances were that compelled her department to grant a certain family – Parliamentary parlance for the Guptas – citizenship.
Mkhize’s predecessor, current minister of finance Malusi Gigaba, granted some members of the controversial family – believed to be the centre point of a large state capture network – citizenship in 2015 after his departmental officials initially refused their applications.
Mkhize said the relevant legislation allows the minister of home affairs to grant South African citizenship under certain circumstances. She said in their case it was based on their “investment in the country”.
“They have stolen!” yelled EFF MPs.
Mkhize said there was sufficient evidence at the time that their businesses registered in the country were growing and they had up to 7000 permanent employees at their companies.
EFF Natasha Ntlangwini asked a follow-up question on behalf of Mkhaliphi.
“They have literally looted Prasa, Transnet SAA,” said Ntlangwini. “Would you give such criminals citizenship to your country?”
Mkhize answered, “If I was in that position in that time, the priority would be to look at their contribution to the growth of our economy. I would make sure to create a conducive environment for them to invest in the country.”
Ntlangwini said, “The minister of home affairs just confirmed that she would continue the looting!”
'What investments are you talking about?'
After Ntlangwini DA MP Haniff Hoosen said the Guptas were now selling their businesses and were moving to Dubai.
“Will you revoke their citizenship?”
Mkhize answered, “We have looked at this issue. There are processes, you can’t go by hearsay.”
She said there is no information that they are no longer investing in South Africa.
“And if I give it [the information] to you?” Hoosen interjected.
Mkhize simply answered, “No.”
Then she added, “We have to treat people with dignity. We treat matters of this nature within the parameters of the law. We should be guided by the outcomes of that process.”
After her answer, a visibly livid DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said, off the microphone, but audible in the press gallery, “What a pathetic, pathetic answer. Defending the Guptas! Shame on you! Are you on their payroll as well?”
Agang MP Andries Tlouamma arose to ask his follow-up question to cries of “whoooo” from the ANC benches.
He started off saying it “seems everybody is under their control”.
“The Guptas stole our money, what investments are you talking about?” asked Tlouamma. He also asked if their citizenship was granted to please President Jacob Zuma and his family.
Mkhize said it was essential for the dignity of the House to be truthful.
Tlouamma jumped up and said, “It is public knowledge that Duduzane Zuma is doing business with the Guptas.” Duduzane is Jacob Zuma's son.
Mkhize did not want to add anything to her earlier answer to Tlouamma.