Zuma MPs lobby Luthuli House to halt parly probe into state capture
Zuma loyalists say inquiry not needed
MPs loyal to President Jacob Zuma lobbied Luthuli House in a last-minute bid to persuade the party to block the parliamentary inquiry into allegations of state capture, the Sunday Times has learnt.
The day before his cabinet appointment was announced, new State Security Minister Bongani Bongo led a group of eight ANC MPs who arrived uninvited at the party's headquarters on Monday. There they demanded a meeting with the party's leadership as they wanted the top six to order the legislature to drop its inquiry into the alleged capture of Eskom by the Guptas.
The group, which included home affairs portfolio committee chairman Lemias Mashile, backbenchers Sibusiso Radebe, Mervyn Dirks, Zukiswa Faku and Loyiso Mpumlwana, made their demands in a meeting with National Assembly Speaker and party chairwoman Baleka Mbete.Radebe confirmed making the trip to Johannesburg where they met Mbete. He said they were not in favour of the Eskom inquiry as they believed that parliament had no authority to conduct such a probe because Zuma had committed to instituting a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.
Radebe, and other sources within the ANC parliamentary caucus who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, claimed that Mbete came out in support of their demand but failed to secure the support of ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu, who apparently reaffirmed his support for the state capture probe when she told him of the MPs' proposal.
Another member of the delegation, who insisted on remaining anonymous, said Mbete asked Mthembu to support the scrapping of the inquiry.
"She phoned Jackson in our presence. Jackson was speaking loudly, he was very angry. He was told that parliament cannot continue with the inquiry because they don't have the financial resources and the chairperson doesn't have the expertise."The process they are following is wrong. Jackson put Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom in that committee," the MP said. "Pravin is conflicted as he has an axe to grind. Everything he [Mthembu] does has a factional agenda."
The ANC chief whip is a vocal critic of Zuma and supports Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take over as ANC president in December. The Zuma loyalists favour Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Mthembu on Friday declined to comment, saying caucus discussions were confidential.
But those privy to the matter confirmed he had read the riot act to Mbete when she phoned him on Monday. On Tuesday Mthembu had reported the matter to the caucus political strategy committee for guidance.
The group was also defeated at the closed caucus meeting on Thursday, where it was decided the inquiry would continue.
Bongo could not be reached for comment and Mbete had not responded to questions by press time.