During this afternoon’s parliamentary Q & A session addressed by President Jacob Zuma, DA leader Mmusi Maimane asked Zuma whether it was appropriate to take action against MPs such as Dr Makhosi Khoza who voted according to their conscience during the motion of no confidence.
“I am told [the] DA constitution is clear on the matter [of voting with the opposition], it is automatic exclusion. You don’t even do the witch-hunt,” Zuma told MPs, in effect making it clear that he considers action against those not toeing the party line is appropriate.
He added that he was unable to address the question on whether Grace Mugabe was let off the hook after allegedly assaulting a local model at a Sandton hotel because he is not a lawyer.
The session lasted just over three hours, mainly due to countless points of order that subsided when the EFF left in protest after saying Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli was “protecting a criminal against democratically elected MPs”. Tsenoli pleaded with the whips of various political parties to change the rules during programming committee meetings to allow for more than three supplementary questions.
Zuma defended the current SAA chairperson, Dudu Myeni, from MPs criticism that she was running the airline into the ground, and insisted the national carrier had historical deficiencies that could be tracked to an “American” who had left it in shambles.
The US’s Coleman Andrews, a former CEO of SAA, was paid out R200 million, tax free, during his two-and-a-half-year tenure at the airline, with critics describing the payout as “one of the most rapid accumulations of wealth in SA’s business history”.
Maimane told Zuma he was presiding over a government that had extended bailouts to the tune of “R23.3 billion of poor people’s money…to an airline ran by a close associate of yours” and urged the president to remove the board.
Several EFF MPs reminded Zuma that, in fact, SAA was profitable during the time when Siza Mzimela was the CEO. EFF MP Hlengiwe Hlophe-Maxon jumped on to her feet to tell Zuma to stop “lying about this issue.” Zuma had told MPs that “in fact Parliament [for the first time] got a corruption report in that entity because of the people who work there”, a decision that enabled government to take a decision to “recapitalise SAA and turn it around”.
Agang SA MP Andries Tlouamma, describing Zuma’s administration as “crime in action”, asked Zuma about his penchant for associating himself with “incompetent and corrupt people” such as Minister Faith Muthambi and Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Zuma blatantly told MPs to forget about him taking action against the minister.
“I am not firing Muthambi. I have not taken that decision.”
Zuma dismissed alleged evidence contained in the leaked Gupta emails about his alleged 2009 meeting with a government official, his son Duduzane Zuma and one of the Gupta brothers to discuss government tenders.
“I have never instructed any state institutions to issue contracts. Issues raised are similar to issues investigated in the State of Capture report. I have stated on numerous occasions my intentions to establish a commission of inquiry to probe matters contained in the report,” he said.
The president also rebutted opposition benches claims that his decision to appoint former mining boss Silas Zimu as his energy special adviser was motivated by a meeting both of them attended where Russian businesspeople expressed an intention to buy Telkom shares. The finance ministry recently announced it would sell its stake in Telkom to bail out the ailing SAA.