The leaked Gupta emails being made public, detailing the extent of the family’s influence on politicians and state-owned entities, are an indication of how South Africa is a “transparent” country, President Jacob Zuma told MPs on Thursday.
Zuma was in the National Assembly for his quarterly appearance to answer oral questions from MPs.
He said he did not know where the damning emails came from. The emails have implicated his son Duduzane and some Cabinet ministers in wide-scale state corruption.
“Firstly, the very fact that if things or if they are emails or whatever, and every Sunday they are up there [newspapers], it indicates how transparent the country is. In other countries, you don’t see such things being revealed. It’s an important point to make,” Zuma said.
“Secondly, sitting here, I don’t know where they come from. I don’t know how authentic they are, they have not been tested in any institutions.”
He was answering a question from NFP chief whip Nhlanhla Khubisa, who said the emails had a negative impact on the image and integrity of the country.
Zuma said government had committed itself to establishing a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture, and the emails would be part of the investigation.
“So we are not leaving them unattended to, then we will able to speak about the emails with a serious scientific investigation, which will tell us exactly what happened, and to what extent are they disrupting the lives of South Africans … and we are moving as fast as possible to establish the commission,” he said.
Earlier, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete turned down a request by DA MP Natasha Mazzone to have copies of the emails distributed to Cabinet ministers, who have claimed not to have seen them.
Mazzone held large envelopes containing the emails.
“Madam speaker, five ministers have claimed not to have been in possession or seen the Gupta emails. Chair, I would therefore like to, through the parliamentary staff, hand out copies of the emails to them. Speaker, as a courtesy, I’ll be handing out the copies of the emails to you too,” Mazzone said.
But Mbete was quick to shut down the request.
She responded: “Thank you very much, but really we have only one order item on the order paper.”
On Monday, parliament directed its four committees – home affairs‚ mineral resources‚ public enterprises and transport – to “urgently probe” allegations of state capture involving Cabinet ministers stemming from the emails.