Gupta buck must stop at the top
The refusal of the ministers to account to parliament is symptomatic of the broader attitude of the Zuma clique.
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 04: Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. (Photo by Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla)
It should surprise nobody that Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and her predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, were no-shows at yesterday’s meeting of parliament’s oversight committee on home affairs to explain how the Gupta family was granted early citizenship.
It is on their desks, after all, where the buck should stop when it comes to decisions made at the top executive level for their portfolio. But this buck, apparently, is an endangered species when it comes to the ANC government of President Jacob Zuma.
Zuma and his acolytes hover between “deny, deny, deny” and “avoid, avoid, avoid” when it comes to difficult questions … and they are especially touchy about anything to do with the Gupta family.
It was left to home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni to cover their rears in parliament yesterday. Whether one believes Apleni’s explanations – which were detailed and in some cases, convoluted – is almost irrelevant, because the heart of the matter is that the two ministers, during their time in office, were ultimately responsible for the decision to grant the Gupta family naturalisation in questionable circumstances.
It is those ministers – but especially Gigaba, who has been accused of inappropriate closeness to the Guptas (to put it mildly) – who need to explain to South Africa why the family apparently merited some special treatment.
The refusal of the ministers to account to parliament is symptomatic of the broader attitude of the Zuma clique which, put simply, is: do not argue with us; do not question us … if you do, you are a racist or a counter-revolutionary.
That attitude bodes ill for the future of accountability but even broader, for the very future of democracy.
“We answer to nobody but ourselves” is a common refrain among dictators, most of whom sit at the head of failed states while their people starve.
That must not be allowed to happen here.