Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has dismissed criticism by opposition parties that he should not have delivered the budget speech in parliament on Wednesday, saying he has no connection to the controversial Gupta family and their alleged involvement in state capture activities.
Speaking at a post budget speech breakfast briefing in Cape Town, Gigaba accused opposition parties of grandstanding by calling for his sacking over his alleged links to the Guptas. The brothers are accused of looting the state of billions by using their influence over Cabinet ministers and officials at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to benefit their business empire.
“They are within their rights as opposition parties to position, grandstand and to do whatever they feel that they need to do. They may reject me as the finance minister [but] they have been rejected by the public as ruling parties,” Gigaba said on Thursday at Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The EFF boycotted the minister’s presentation of the budget, a first for an opposition party since the country’s democratic history, after they branded him a “Gupta stooge”. DA MPs incessantly heckled him when he spoke about government tackling corruption during the delivery of his speech in the National Assembly.
Gigaba said he was not implicated in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state of capture report. He said the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture to be headed by Deputy Chief Justice Ray Zondo would be an opportunity for all politicians and state officials to clear their names over allegations of corruption.
“The report of the public protector made no mention of me, and the inquiry in parliament on Eskom and irregularities at Eskom did not call me to come and testify,” he said.
Despite being mentioned 43 times in a report compiled by nine academics and researchers into state capture, the minister said both former Eskom chief executive Brian Dames and chairperson Zola Tsotsi – who appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into SOEs – did not implicate him in any wrongdoing.
The report “Betraying The Promise: How South Africa Is Being Stolen” was released in May 2017. The 63-page report alleged that Gigaba’s appointment as public enterprises minister in 2010 began the “systematic process of reconfiguring” SOEs’ boards to the benefit of the Guptas and their associates.
“All of the issues that they are raising on fact are absolutely incorrect but (used) to grandstand, which is within their rights,” he said.
Gigaba also denied that he had a hand in granting some members of the Gupta family South African citizenship in 2015.