Gigaba fights to clear Gupta association
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will head to Parliament this week emboldened by an interim report that does not single him out in the Gupta naturalisation saga.
Gigaba is one of five people who have been called to give evidence before Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs this week. It is holding a three-day investigation into the process followed in the naturalisation of the Gupta family.
Parliament announced this week that three days would be set aside to probe the matter of the Guptas further. Former home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni and former home affairs employee Gideon Christians are two of the five to be called.
In the interim report, which is the first phase of the probe, Christians is repeatedly cited for having close dealings with the Gupta family and its associates. Christians, who worked for the SA High Commission of New Delhi, also features repeatedly in the leaked Gupta emails.
The draft report of Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs points to a need for further investigations and lists number of people “identified for further clarity”.
The list of 20-plus names includes former home affairs ministers Mangosuthu Buthelezi and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, with other former and present officials from the department. A number of Gupta employees and associates who also made the list include Nazeem Howa (former group chief executive of Gupta-owned Oakbay), Ashu Chawla (former chief executive of Gupta-owned Sahara Computers) and the infamous brothers themselves, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta.
There are a total of 26 questions seeking further clarity on the processes taken by the home affairs department that allowed all three Gupta brothers and their relatives to enter South Africa.
The report raises “legal concerns” in the application of the policy that permitted Gigaba to grant naturalisation to Ajay Gupta upon appeal.
The Gupta brother had initially been denied naturalisation on the basis he applied with his family and two members (his mother and wife) were denied, preventing the collective application from being successful. Although Ajay personally met the requirements, he was denied on the basis that the two family members did not.
“It is common cause that the minister has the power, in law, to grant a certificate of naturalisation to a person who has not fulfilled the residential requirements under the act. The act is clear that such a power should be exercised only in “exceptional circumstances” and yet it does not define what those circumstances are,” the report reads.
“Although the existence of an investment is a matter of fact, whether that investment constitutes ‘exceptional circumstances’ under the act is an exercise of a value judgement.
“At any given point there are thousands of persons who invest in South Africa and it cannot be that all of them would be entitled to ‘early’ naturalisation by virtue of their investments.
“From the reading of the submission approved by the minister for the naturalisation of the Gupta family, it is difficult to make a determination as to what was considered ‘exceptional’ in this instance.”
The report notes a “pattern of manipulation” of home affairs by the Gupta family in granting visas to some of the family’s employees.
“For someone who has been so loudly vilified by the opposition and sections of the media as one of the key enablers of the Gupta state capture project, it is most curious that Gigaba is yet to be confronted with even a single direct allegation of improper conduct on his part,” a source close to Gigaba said.
“This is someone who has already appeared in front of three separate tribunals – the parliamentary Gupta naturalisation inquiry, the parliamentary Eskom inquiry and the Nugent Sars [SA Revenue Service] inquiry – and provided a comprehensive account of his tenure in Cabinet, which not even his fiercest detractors had been able to undermine on the grounds of irregularity, irrationality or incompetence.
“So prejudiced are some of his detractors that they have even gone ahead and rewritten the history of the Nugent inquiry to hide the fact that it is actually his brainchild,” the source said.
What will the inquiry discover about the Gupta family’s naturalisation? Will Malusi Gigaba be cleared?
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