The much anticipated appearance on Tuesday of the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture has been cancelled at short notice.
In a statement on Monday, Parliament's communications service said Gigaba, in a letter sent to the public enterprises portfolio committee conducting the probe, had requested a "reasonable extension" before having to appear before it.
"Subsequent to the minister's letter, the committee meeting scheduled for Tuesday has been cancelled," the statement said. It quoted inquiry chair Zukiswa Rantho.
"I decided to send the letter to the members of the committee to inform them about the minister's request instead of waiting until Tuesday for the scheduled meeting. The committee will deliberate and discuss the minister's request at its next scheduled meeting," she said.
Gigaba has been in his current post less than a week, following President Cyril Ramaphosa's dramatic Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of former president Jacob Zuma's resignation on February 14.
Under the Zuma administration, Gigaba served as finance minister from March 31 last year – following Zuma's controversial dismissal of the highly respected Pravin Gordhan – until last week, when he was replaced by Nhlanhla Nene.
Of more pertinent interest to MPs serving on the inquiry is the time he served as Zuma's public enterprises minister, from November 1, 2010, to May 25, 2014. During his tenure, the Eskom board was overhauled, all but two of its members replaced, and Zola Tsotsi appointed as chairman.
Gigaba also stands accused of "fast-tracking" applications by members of the Gupta family to become South African citizens during his previous tenure as home affairs minister from May 25, 2014, to March 31, 2017.
Gigaba has conceded he helped with the applications, but denies there was anything "unusual" about this.
The cancellation of Gigaba's appearance before the inquiry on Tuesday comes after former SAA boss Dudu Myeni's no-show on Wednesday last week.
Myeni incensed MPs when she sent the inquiry an apology via SMS, explaining she would not be testifying because her lawyer needed more time to prepare.
The next session of the inquiry is set for Wednesday, when according to the latest programme, former Eskom chair Ben Ngubane will appear before it.