Minister of Home Affairs Hlengiwe Mkhize on Tuesday decided not to show up in parliament for the Home Affairs Committee. This comes after she said she needed concrete proof that the Guptas have broken the law before she would revoke their South African citizenship.
Malusi Gigaba, who admitted he granted early certificates of naturalisation to the Guptas for their South African citizenship when he was in charge of Home Affairs was also a no-show in parliament for the hearing. He is currently the Minister of Finance.
Director general of Home Affairs Mkuseli Aplen held the briefing and was heavily scrutinised by DA's John Steenhuisen who said:
"It is a problem that not one of the executives are here to account for [the] Gupta naturalisation, it is the job of parliament to hold executives accountable. The director general is not an executive, he is just a civil servant."
Aplen claimed the Gupta family applied for a visa in 1995, and in 2008 applied for permanent residency. The Gupta family argued they had business in the country. "They have every right of a South African citizen, except to vote," explained Aplen.
Since India does not allow dual citizenship, MP's wanted to know if any Guptas renounced their citizenship. Aplen replied:
"Mr A. Gupta is not a South African citizen, he never renounced his Indian citizenship, only four Gupta's are naturalised."
Mkuseli said two members of the family did not qualify for citizenship, Angori and Shivani Gupta.
He said Gigaba should have tabled the names to parliament, but added, "Not tabling does not mean [their] citizenship is null and void". He went on to defend Gigaba's action by reading out names of people who received SA citizenship but were not tabled, including Springbok Tendai Mtwarira and disgraced former Fifa secretary general Jérôme Valcke.
The DA's chief whip was not impressed, saying sports individuals have nothing to do with the Gupta emails and that they should not even be mentioned in this issue. He followed by asking whether Home Affairs officials ever met the Guptas, and received any gifts or hospitality from the family.
Corne Mulder of Freedom Front Plus stated: "I suggest we summon the ministers. It is time for executives to respect parliament." Mkuseli tried to put doubt on the authenticity of the leaked emails by claiming the documents had been tampered with.
Home Affairs says this letter being circulated on Social Media has been tampered with. Says date should be "27 December 2017" pic.twitter.com/oCeEARouhL— Lester Kiewit (@lesterkk) June 27, 2017
With Hlengiwe Mkhize and Malusi Gigaba failing to respond to parliament, citizens took to social media and expressed their views about the handling of the citizenship.
Know what's annoying and tiring? The Gupta squad trending every day with evidence floating all over but no action taken. #GuptasCitizenship— Sundowns_Fanatic ⭐ (@Solomon_Madube) June 27, 2017
Gigaba's failure to pitch in Parliament made him look guilty as hell and further reaffirmed the leaked Gupta emails #GuptasCitizenship— Olebogeng Legote (@OleLegote) June 27, 2017
Last week was Gupta, today is again Gupta, tomorrow it will be them #GuptasCitizenship when is action take place ?— edgark 😉 (@edgarjhn1) June 27, 2017