Uproar in the house over 'liar' Gigaba's no-show

07 March 2018 - 17:18 By Thabo Mokone
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Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Image: Martin Rhodes

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba's absence during parliament's oral question session with MPs sparked a commotion in the house as lawmakers slammed his no-show.

As soon as opposition MPs realised Gigaba was not in the chamber during question time they started shouting "where's the liar."

Gigaba has been under pressure lately as the home affairs portfolio committee probed him on Tuesday on the naturalisation of the controversial Gupta family‚ while the committee probing the alleged capture of Eskom also wants him to appear before it.

DA MP Hannif Hoosen had wanted Gigaba to explain to parliament how many foreigners had been granted South African citizenship since April 2017.

But the Q&A session with ministers in cabinet's peace and security cluster degenerated owing to Gigaba's non-appearance.

"We respectfully would like to check with you if minister Malusi Gigaba has actually given reasons for his absence today‚ because he goes around lying to South Africa‚ now he's avoiding parliament. That's the motivation of the question‚ has he possibly lied to you about his absence?" said EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

Ndlozi was later ejected from the house for declining to withdraw calling Gigaba a liar on the basis of a recent court finding that the minister had lied under oath.

Speaker Baleka Mbete told MPs earlier she had not been informed of Gigaba's whereabouts.

"I share the concern‚ but I can't actually produce the minister right now. Indeed‚ there's a need for cabinet members to present themselves to respond to questions (but also) a provision for a deputy minister to respond in the absence of the minister‚" she said.

Minutes later‚ Mbete read a letter from Gigaba's office‚ explaining that he had been booked off due to ill-health.

"It's signed by the chief of staff of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It goes 'I hereby tender an apology on behalf of minister Gigaba … who will be unable to attend plenary today 7 March 2018. He is not feeling well‚ the minister could not sign the letter because he had to rush to the doctor'‚” Mbete announced amid loud jeers from opposition benches.

DA Chief John Steenhuisen questioned the veracity of the letter.

"Madam speaker‚ I would really ask that you investigate the veracity of that letter. And we're going to be monitoring Instagram and Twitter this afternoon because I believe that letter has been written because the minister got himself into a mess over misleading statements he's made relating to the Guptas‚" he said.

Mbete later ruled that the questions that were directed to Gigaba would stand over until the next Q&A date‚ when he would be present.

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