IEC & Government Printing Works 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan; Gupta family early naturalisation
27 March 2018
Chairperson: Mr D Gumede (ANC)
IEC & Government Printing Works 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan; Gupta family early naturalisation 1
IEC & Government Printing Works 2018/19 Annual Performance Plan; Gupta family early naturalisation 2
The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) briefed the Committee on its annual performance plan (APP) and budget for the 2018/19 financial year, and said there were new developments arising from the Constitutional Court ruling in June 2016 (Electoral Commission v Mhlope and Others) which affected its operations. Two significant aspects had been underscored by the ruling:
- The IEC ought, by 30 June 2018, to have obtained and recorded on the national common voters’ roll all addresses of voters that were reasonably available as at 17 December 2003; and
- The IEC ought to obtain and record all available addresses on the voters’ roll for the relevant ward segments of the voters’ roll for purposes of municipal by-elections.
Another three court rulings had been successfully appealed against in the Supreme Court of Appeal. These included the setting aside by the electoral court on 23 September 2016 of the results of the 2016 municipal elections for the Namakwa District Municipality; the order by the electoral court to conduct a recount of the votes in wards in the Cape Metro, the Bergrivier Municipality and the entire Swartland Municipality; and the dismissal by the Pretoria High Court of the matter between the IEC and Abland Consortium, to set aside the lease agreement for Riverside Office Park.
The IEC briefed the Committee on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill which was due to be tabled in Parliament in the first quarter of 2018, highlighting the key amendments. There was also the Political Party Funding Bill, which provided for party funding to be managed by a separate entity reporting to the IEC. The IEC commented that this would help insulate the work of the party funding unit from that of the existing IEC, and ensure no conflict or “cannibalisation” of resources.
Referring to its APP, the Commission provided details of its strategic goals, which dealt mainly with its mandate to manage free and fair elections in accordance with the applicable electoral timetables to ensure the efficient and credible execution of the mandate of the Electoral Commission. It also aimed to provide and maintain a stable, secure and scalable information communication technology (ICT) environment that met its functional needs to ensure the credibility of electronic electoral processes
Members raised concerns about whether the IEC had implemented the Public Protector’s recommendations, and said that the lease agreement for Riverside Office Park should be investigated because there might be fraud and corruption involved. They also wanted to know if the Commission’s request for condonation had been successful, and how it would operate under financial constraints. The funding of the political parties was also a concern, as well as the absence of training the staff who would be involved in the upcoming elections.
The Government Printing Works (GPW) said it would be repositioning its business processes to ensure stability, sustainability and viability of the organisation as a critical national security facility, and ensure a return on investment. Its a long term vision was to be the state security printer of choice, which would allow it to pursue business in neighbouring countries as a service provider for state and non-state printing.
Members were concerned that certain positions were occupied by people in acting capacities. They raised issues regarding ensuring the security of access to the GPW building and the quality of documents provided, especially smart identity (ID) cards. They argued that the GPW should not outsource labour or allow security guards and cleaners to have access to critical rooms, and that the GPW should extend its market to supply the whole continent.
Finally, the Committee discussed its role in dealing with the reports in the public domain regarding the naturalisation of Gupta family members. After a DA Member had tabled a series of emails related to the matter, and asserted that there were more Gupta family members who had received citizenship than the initial five first disclosed to the Committee by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), they proposed that it was time to put the issue to bed once and for all in the public interest This would give the public at large the comfort that the Committee had dealt with the matter. Members agreed that all the relevant documents should be collected and submitted to the Parliamentary Legal Advisors to study, in order to make a report and guide the Committee on which route to take. The brief should be completed as soon as possible so the Committee could address the issue after the Easter recess.
Independent Electoral Commission: Annual Performance Plan
Mr Sy Mamabolo, Chief Electoral Officer, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), started by talking about court rulings.
Firstly, he said that the ruling by the Constitutional Court in June 2016 (Electoral Commission v Mhlope and Others) had had significant implications on the IEC’s operations. Two aspects of the judgment especially continued to have a very significant impact on the operational and strategic imperatives for the period covered by this strategic plan. These aspects were that the IEC ought, by 30 June 2018, to have obtained and recorded on the national common voters’ roll all the addresses of voters that were reasonably available as at 17 December 2003; and that it IEC ought to obtain and record all available addresses on the voters’ roll for the relevant ward segments of the voters’ roll for purposes of municipal by-elections.
Secondly, there was new development arising from three recent court rulings. The first court ruling related to the setting aside by the Electoral Court on 23 September 2016 of the results of the 2016 municipal elections for the Namakwa District Municipality. The IEC had appealed the judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the appeal had been successful. The second court ruling pertained to the order by the Electoral Court to conduct a recount of the votes in ward 191000069 in the Cape Metro, VD 978401210 in ward 10103005, Bergrivier Municipality and the entire Swartland Municipality. The IEC had appealed the judgment in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the appeal had been successful. The third court ruling pertained to the dismissal by the Pretoria High Court of the matter between the IEC and Abland Consortium, to set aside the lease agreement for Riverside Office Park. The dismissal of this matter had concluded the rectification steps recommended by the Public Protector.
Mr Mamabolo said that a draft Electoral Laws Amendment Bill was due to be tabled in Parliament in the first quarter of 2018. The key amendments include the following main aspects:
- Electronic submission clauses, which aimed at providing for the electronic registration of political parties and electronic submission of party candidate lists;
- Mental health restrictions clauses, which aimed at removing restrictions from registration by mental health patients (Section 8 of Electoral Act);
- Internal party disputes clauses that were aimed at providing jurisdiction to the Electoral Court to hear and determine any matter relating to interpretation of the constitution concerning disputes about the legitimate leadership of the party;
- Voter registration enhancement clauses that allowed for electronic (online) registration by voters, amended the legislation to ensure registration of voters in the correct ward (rather than voting district), and expanded the potential venues for overseas registration and voting; and
- Voters’ roll certification clauses that limited objections to the voters’ roll to a clearly defined window period in the election timetable.
The Political Party Funding Bill was due to be tabled in the National Assembly in March 2018. The Bill provided for party funding to be managed by a separate entity reporting to the IEC. This would help insulate the work of the party funding unit from that of the existing IEC, and ensure no conflict or “cannibalisation” of resources. Once adopted and proclaimed, it was proposed to implement the new legislation in a staggered approach in line with the availability of funding for the new responsibilities of the IEC. In view of the many unknown factors in the first year of implementation of the provisions of the envisaged new act, the following was proposed:
- A phased-in approach be followed in implementing the requirements of the Bill, and only a skeleton staff complement be appointed;
- The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the political party funding entity be among the first appointments on the structure;
- Two senior managers, one for party funding management and one for policy and regulatory affairs and enforcement, also be among the first appointments, as these were basic functional elements of the proposed business entity;
- The current Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) unit be moved to the new entity.
It was proposed to prioritise the following aspects of the draft legislation ahead of the National and Provincial Elections (NPE) in 2019: Implementation of the Represented Political Parties Fund;
establishment of the Multiparty Democracy Fund; annual reporting and disclosure by political parties of all resources and amounts of direct funding to the IEC; and research and policy development.
Mr Mamabolo further briefed the Committee on the environmental analysis. He said that there had been a narrowing of the margin of victory between the majority and opposition parties; a highly litigious environment in which parties were increasingly turning to the courts to resolve disputes rather than mediation or dialogue; fragile coalitions in a number of municipal councils, including two dissolved councils since the 2016 local government elections (LGE); a rise in intra- and inter-party conflict and violence ahead of the 2016 LGE – frequently linked to the party candidate list process; continuation of community protests over service delivery issues; on-going demarcation disputes in some municipalities; and a highly constrained fiscal environment.
The address harvesting and capturing processes of the IEC had been were streamlined. It had strengthened its temporary human and infrastructural capacity to avoid logistical difficulties. It paid tariffs commensurate with the realities of attracting a more mature and experienced election day staff complement. It had substantially improved on and increased the amount of training provided to such electoral staff to equip them to deal with the increasingly litigious environment and new registration processes and technologies. It had adjusted its capacity and programmes to be able to deal with complaints, objections, disputes and court cases, as well as conflict resolution management. It had sensitised permanent and temporary staff about the dangers and complications of electoral fraud in order to protect the integrity and credibility of its electoral processes.
It had further increased the focus on democracy and voter education, as well as the dissemination of information through civil society and the media. It had dealt with the cost escalations in the logistical field, especially with regard to printing and the increased cost of diminishing municipal support. It expanded on the erecting of prefabricated offices (park homes) which had been piloted as an alternative for the accommodation previously provided by municipalities. It had replaced the stock of hand held portable bar scanning units (zip-zips) in the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, as these would be reaching the end of their useful lives. It carried out an information technology (IT) hardware refreshment and platform upgrade on a five-year cycle. Finally, it had maintained the measures aimed at transparency in elections that had been introduced with the national and municipal elections in respect of information communication technology (ICT) systems.
With regard to strategic planning process, in November 2011 new members of the IEC had been appointed, and a re-visioning exercise -- Vision 2018 -- had been undertaken. A task team had been established to draft the current five-year strategic plan, taking cognisance of Vision 2018 while aligning the plan with the MTEF budget structure. While this original five-year strategic plan, expiring in 2018/19, remained the foundation for this current strategic plan, the management of the IEC met each year around August to review the plan based mainly on the previous year’s performance, the current environment, emerging and changing priorities and challenges, and other critical factors. A revised draft strategic and annual performance plan (APP) was then presented to the Executive Committee and ultimately to the IEC for approval, prior to tabling in Parliament. In June 2018, the IEC and key management from the administration would embark on a new five-year strategic re-visioning exercise which would form the foundation of the strategic plan for the next five-year period.
The IEC had three strategic goals:
- Strengthening governance, institutional excellence, professionalism and enabling business processes, at all levels of the organisation;
- Achieving pre-eminence in the area of managing elections and referenda, including the strengthening of a cooperative relationship with political parties; and
- Strengthening electoral democracy.
The first strategic goal was further divided into five activities. These were: (i) exercising oversight (monitoring, evaluation and leadership) to ensure the effective implementation of the Commission’s core mandate, strategic goals and objectives, aligned with the corresponding budget allocation; (ii) exercising efficient oversight (monitoring, evaluation and support) by the provisioning of assurance and risk management services; (iii) building institutional capacity to enable the Commission to deliver on its constitutional mandate; (iv) managing its financial resources efficiently to protect the public image of the IEC as an accountable institution; and (v) providing and maintaining a stable, secure and scalable ICT environment that met the functional needs of the Commission, to ensure the credibility of electronic electoral processes.
The second strategic goal would be achieved if certain activities were performed. These included managing free and fair elections in accordance with the applicable electoral timetables to ensure the efficient and credible execution of the mandate of the Commission; maintaining an accurate national common voters roll to ensure the credibility of elections; and ensuring efficient election delivery by the timely establishment of accessible and suitable voting facilities and processes and by applying infrastructure and logistical resources to meet operational demands for main electoral events.
The third strategic goal would be attained if the following activities were successfully undertaken. They included encouraging the electorate’s engagement with, and participation in, electoral processes in order to facilitate the right to vote, as enshrined in the Constitution; achieving a low rate of spoilt ballots as a measure of the effectiveness of balloting education; enhancing the IEC’s reputation as a credible and trustworthy electoral management body; and providing thought leadership in the field of electoral management and related fields as per Vision 2018 in order to strengthen electoral democracy.
Mr M Kekana (ANC) commented that at the last meeting, the IEC had said that it had made a request for condonation, and he asked what had happened. Referring to recent court rulings, he asked what had led the Gauteng High Court to reject the request of the IEC as it pertained to the lease agreement for Riverside Office Park. The IEC had stated that the Supreme Court of Appeal decision had resulted in the dismissal of the matter and in concluding the rectification steps recommended by the Public Protector. What did this imply? He wanted to know whether the IEC had met all recommendations made by the Public Protector. The IEC should brief the Committee on how these recommendations had been met if the answer to his question was in affirmative. He wanted an explanation for why there was a small increase in the turn out voters expected.
Mr M Hoosen (DA) sought clarity on the Political Party Funding Bill, ashis understanding was that individuals and business could contribute to political party funding. Was that correct? How much was contributed to the funding of political parties? He asked what the ICT projects were and whether the IEC would achieve zero outstanding physical addresses. Was the funding allocated to the IEC enough for its operations and to meet its constitutional mandate?
Ms H Mkhaliphi EFF) said that with regard to political funding, the IEC had stated that the DA had taken the Bill to the Chief Whips’ Forum, and the IEC had advised the Committee that the Bill would not continue because the DA blocked it. She had attended the Forum meeting, and nothing had been talked about regarding the Bill. There had been no clarity provided. At the last meeting, she had asked for clarity on clause 10 of the Bill, because it appeared that there were two versions of the clause, and she did not know which one was applicable or correct. The view was that the clause that had been presented to the Committee was the wrong one. The clause talked about political party funding. In the presentation, the IEC had indicated that it agreed with the National Treasury funding it. The IEC had come again and had claimed that they needed another R30 million. While briefing another Committee, the IEC had presented a different amount. There had been agreement between the Committee and the IEC that the National Treasury could allocate another R20 million to it, and not R30 million. There was inconsistency in the IEC information.
She agreed with Mr Kekana that the IEC should brief the Committee on the status of the implementation of the Public Protector recommendations. With regard to its environmental analysis, she agreed that there were new developments, and asked how the IEC proposed to deal with them. On the temporary structures for elections, she commented that the IEC had stated that they would rely on existing structures. It seemed no study had been conducted to ensure that good and proper existing structures were utilised when voting. She had previously asked about a woman who worked for the IEC in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) who was not paid, but had received no response. She further commented that there were some places where people had said they did not want to register -- what was being done to address the issue?
Ms T Kenye (ANC) asked for clarity on the renewal of technology and financial constraints and their implications for the voters roll and the upcoming elections. What were the future plans to ensure that the IEC was well funded?
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) asked how many political parties had been registered. Why was the IEC not going to the media to state that the allocation of funds for the elections was not enough?
Mr H Chauke (ANC) remarked that there was important information missing from the presentation, such as election plans and deadlines. Members were asking questions because of the absence of information. What was the view of the courts on financial constraints? The IEC should know that there were elections ahead. More information should be focused on elections and responding to issues such as the number of the people who would be employed and at which level, and the budget needed. The presentation had failed to provide a breakdown per programme, making it difficult for the Committee to make follow-ups.
Mr A Figlan (DA) asked about temporary voting stations, and whether there were negotiations to ensure that voting stations were available. How did the IEC intend to deal with the problem of employers who did not allow people to go to vote, despite the day of the elections being declared a public holiday?
Mr Glen Mashinini, Chairperson: IEC, said that in order to save time, they would not be responding to questions asked at the previous meeting, because some Members had been present whereas others were not. Members should make use of the previous minutes with regard to previously asked questions.
Mr Chauke intervened, commenting that the IEC should refrain from directing Members to the Committee’s minutes. The IEC should proceed and answer new questions and guide Members to previous answers. Members needed responses irrespective of the fact that questions had been previously asked.
Ms Hlope commented that the IEC could not tell members what to ask and not to ask. The IEC could not come to account and dictate.
Mr Mashinini responded that he was not dictating; rather he was trying to explain the context in which the IEC would be responding. He acknowledged that the IEC was obliged to answer all questions put to it by Members – whether they had been asked previously or not. He did not mean to disrespect Parliament.
Mr Kekana said that Mr Mashinini had been arrogant in telling Members that he would not be responding to questions previously asked.
Mr Mashinini reiterated that he had not intended upsetting Members.
The Chairperson said Mr Mashinini had apologised and he should be given a chance to respond.
Mr Mashinini said Mr Mamabolo would be responding to the questions.
Mr Mamabolo referred to condonations, and said that a condonation had been signed and sent to the National Treasury after a discussion with the Chief Procurement Officer on certain modalities. The IEC had received a letter from the National Treasury asking whether there had been a police criminal investigation. The matter had been investigated and the IEC had responded. It was therefore a matter of days before the office of Chief Procurement Officer would let the IEC know whether the matter was condoned.
With regard to the Gauteng High Court judgment, the reason for the rejection of the IEC request was grounded in the fact that the High Court was invoking or treating the matter in terms the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). After a thorough analysis, the court had said that the lease agreement could not be set aside because if the IEC was asked to lease other premises, it would still have to make a payment on the first lease and therefore it would incur financial loss, as it would be paying twice.
On the voter turn out, Mr Mamabolo responded that the IEC believed that the expected turn out of voters was reasonable and realistic compared to the turn out at the last elections.
There had been an increase in international engagements, especially at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) level, due to elections taking place in the region. The cost of travelling in the region was not high, compared to travelling to Europe.
On the question of operating under financial constraints, Mr Mamabolo responded that they would reduce training, workshops, radio and TV advertisements, and the travelling costs of senior officials. The IEC did not have enough funds to run its activities.
The target of capturing all voters’ physical addresses would be difficult, but the IEC could not plan not to implement the ruling of the Constitutional Court. There were judicial and constitutional obligations on the IEC to ensure that people voted. People could not be denied the vote because of a lack of physical addresses.
He said the Political Party Funding Bill was not the IEC’s Bill, and if clause 10 was confusing it was not the problem of the IEC, because Parliament could choose to review the clause to make it more clear and certain. The critical issue was that the Bill was driven by Parliament.
The IEC agreed with the inputs and comments of Members advising that the IEC should give more attention to the upcoming 2019 elections.
Referring to temporary structures, he responded that a study could be conducted to establish if certain temporary structures had no toilets or water or electricity. Not all areas were developed and had good structures. In certain areas, it was difficult to find a structure in good condition. What was important was to find a place where registration of voters and voting could take place.
Election days were normally declared holidays, but employers tended to keep their employees at work. He asked Parliament and political parties to assist the IEC to ensure that all voters were able to turn out.
Mr Kekana said that Mr Mamabolo was not being truthful. The main reason the request of the IEC had been dismissed by the court was not due to reviewing the lease agreement in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. He commented that the IEC should come back and brief the Committee on this case, and clearly state what the reason for the dismissal had been. The new administration was a new dawn, committed to fight against corruption where it was visible. What was clear in the lease agreement was scheming and corruption. It was clear in the report of the Public Protector that there was something wrong.
Mr Chauke expressed his worries about reduction in funds allocated to the training of staff, and asked how elections would be conducted without trained people.
Mr Mamabolo responded that he had not misled Parliament because the reason for the dismissal of the IEC application had been that it did not meet the review requirements of the decision in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act.
Ms Mkhaliphi said that the Committee should find time to discuss how it would engage with presenters, because there was never enough time to engage thoroughly. She reiterated that she had not received an answer to her questions, but would be happy if they were answered in writing, as there was no time to engage with the presentation.
The Chairperson agreed. He noted that questions which had not been responded to should be answered in writing.
Government Printing Works: Annual Performance Plan
Ms Thandi Moyo, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Government Printing Works (GPW), said that in the 2018-19 financial year, the GPW had five priorities. It would:
- Reposition the its business processes to ensure stability, sustainability and viability of the organisation as a critical national security facility;
- Continue to implement the MTEF strategic plan and APP commitments;
- Ensure a return on investment and ensure sound financial management and sustainability;
- Implement a long term vision – state security printer of choice (Vision 2030) that would allow the GPW to pursue SADC and African Union member states to utilize it as a service provider for state and non-state printing; and
- Capacitate and train the workforce to meet market and client demands.
The 2018/19 strategic objectives included securing and protecting the ICT environment, ensuring ICT availability, optimising ICT service offerings, providing independent and objective assurance and consulting services, ensuring modern production equipment for state security printing requirements, producing security printed materials, and coordinating and distributing government information. These strategic objectives were further developed into annual targets, which the GPW expected to be 100% achieved.
Mr Kekana checked whether the GPW was addressing all those positions in which people were acting. Was it still using a private security company? How many consultancies was it using?
Mr Chauke asked what approaches were being used to fulfil its vision of pursuing SADC and African Union member states to utilize the GPW as a service provider for state and non-state printing. Had agreements been signed?
Ms Raphuti said that she was happy to see that the delegation consisted only of women. She asked to be briefed on the litigation that had taken place over the last three years.
Mr Figlan asked whether the GPW should guarantee that the smart identity (ID) cards were securitised, and how such security was implemented.
Referring to the question on security, Ms Moyo responded that the GPW had instituted an audit on the construction. The audit was complete. However, there was a problem with the financial audit. She believed that the financial audit would reveal who would be criminally accountable. The GPW leadership was as concerned about the financial expenditure irregularities as the Committee. At this stage, the GPW was not empowered to open criminal cases as all the information was not yet at its disposal.
The GPW had contracted Fidelity Security Company, and this company had gone through vetting process and was relied on to securitise only the GPW building. There were also internal security measures in place, and the GPW was in the process of training its own security personnnel. People such as cleaners and security guards had limited access to the building. The GPW had its own cleaners who cleaned certain rooms.
With regard to the long term vision, it was not easy to contract other African countries because they had contracted European companies to do their printing work, and contracts were still running. The GPW’s main focus was the SADC countries, and it had engaged with Zambia and Swaziland through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). The DIRCO was assisting the GPW to find countries that could be targeted. So far, Zambia and Swaziland had agreed to use the GPW’s services.
Ms Moyo responded that there had been no litigation within the last three years.
On the question of consultancy, only a security company had been outsourced.
Ms Raphuti said that the question of security should be revisited to ensure that documents’ security could be taken for granted.
Mr Kekana said that the issue of cleaners and security guards should be reconsidered, because security should be optimised.
Ms Moyo responded that the GPW would take into account the serious inputs, comments and suggestions of Members, and remarked that there would be a balance between economic empowerment and security matters. The GPW would employ its own cleaners and security guards who could have access to certain areas.
Early naturalisation of the Gupta family
Mr Hoosen tabled a series of emails in relation to the early naturalisation of the Gupta family for discussion.
He said that there were more Gupta family members who had received citizenship than the initial five first disclosed to the Committee by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). He proposed that it was time to put the issue to bed once and for all in the public interest, and to set a date when they could call both the Department and the Minister to Parliament. This would give the public at large the comfort that the Committee had dealt with it. All Members of the Committee had a responsibility to hold the officials accountable. What they should be interested in knowing was whether or not there had been any impropriety in granting the family early citizenship, and if so, who had granted it. He believed that that only Minister Gigaba could have answers to these questions.
The Chairperson asked whether the emails were communications between the Guptas and Minister Gigaba.
Mr Hoosen responded by rather commenting that whoever who gave preferential treatment to members of Gupta family should be held accountable.
Mr Kekana supported this view. He remarked that it was a time to deal with this issue once and for all. The main reason was that there was a lot of twisted information, making him convinced that there was a case to answer. The matter was in the public domain and the public wanted to know the truth. He therefore proposed that there should be an inquiry or an investigation into the matter. There had been many attempts by the Committee to get information from the DHA, but this had been delayed and the information provided was twisted and contradictory. It appeared to him that there was a lot the Department of Home Affairs wanted to hide. Members should play their role and take officials to account.
Ms Raphuti remarked that there were certain issues which were difficult for her to comprehend. The DA was claiming that it had emails which she thought were personal emails between the Guptas and the Minister. This implied that someone, sitting somewhere in an office, was intercepting officials’ personal emails. Perhaps her personal emails were being intercepted too. That was really scary. It meant that officials were not secure. They were not protected. It was a question as to how the DA got the information in its possession. Could the DA explain to the Committee how it got access to personal emails? She was afraid that someone was sitting somewhere looking at what officials were engaging in in their personal domains. The IT specialists should be invited to explain to the Committee how a person could have access to someone’s personal emails.
Ms Mkhaliphi said she was happy that the Committee had a new Chairperson, because if it had been the former Chairperson he would not have allowed the discussion on Gupta to take place. They had been fighting with him every time this matter had been raised. She seconded Mr Kekana on the proposal to establish an inquiry, adding that Members should be ashamed that it had taken so long to reach consensus on this matter. She agreed that the information provided was twisted and that it seemed that there were a lot of emails that had not been submitted to the Committee.
Responding to Ms Raphuti’s concerns, she said that the emails were already in the public space. They were in the media. They were everywhere. She supported an inquiry into the matter, because the issue before the Committee was not only the emails. There were many Gupta-related issues that remained unclear and uncertain. An inquiry had first been suggested by Committee Member Ms B Dambuza (ANC), when she had noticed that the documents did not correspond with each other. She had seconded Ms Dambuza and proposed that the Gupta issues should not be investigated in a piecemeal manner, but that rather there should be a holistic investigation or inquiry. The inquiry had been supported by Ms Dambuza, Mr Kekana and her. The DA had later supported a full and holistic inquiry. Mr Chauke, when he expressed his views, might not dissent from their opinions and proposals. All South Africans were blaming the Committee for not dealing with the matter properly. Other committees were proposing an inquiry, so why should this Committee not follow suit? Why should the Committee shield the fugitives?
Mr Chauke commented that the Gupta matters were very sensitive because everyone was reading about them in the newspapers. He therefore proposed that the Committee should collect all the information submitted to it by the Department, including the information circulating in the media. It should include, for example, the submitted documents, presentations, and the Director General’s and the Minister’s public statements. The Committee should invite Parliament’s legal services unit to interrogate these documents, compile a report and guide the Committee on how to proceed. Of importance was that the Indian Embassy should appear before the Committee and make clear what the position of the Guptas was. This was important, because all information relating to Guptas should be collected. The Committee should be equipped with information in order to deal decisively with the matter. If it transpired that a person had lied to Parliament, there was a consequence that ought to be meted out. Some of the Guptas were fugitives. The main question was whether they were escaping as South African citizens or as Indian citizens? There was nothing stopping Parliament from investigating any matter which appeared to be unclear to it. It was the duty of Parliament to ensure that all matters before it were clarified.
The Chairperson agreed. All information should be collected and looked at and it should then be decided whether an inquiry or investigation should be instituted. The Committee would be guided by the legal services unit after studying the collected documents.
Mr Kekana thanked the Chairperson and expressed happiness about the new development, as there was now a common understanding. The Committee had a common view and voice. The Committee needed to agree on when the legal advisors would come to guide the Committee on what route should be taken.
Mr Figlan remarked that, according to information in the media, the Indian Embassy had indicated that the Guptas were no longer Indian citizens.
Mr Chauke said that between now and 16 April, the Chairperson should engage in consultation to make sure that all information was available, and that it was studied by the legal advisors. When Members came back from the Easter recess, they should be briefed by the legal advisors on their findings and guidance. Furthermore, the Chairperson should request the Department to prepare a report on all people who had been naturalised within the last five or 10 years. The report would help the Committee to deal with all issues related to naturalisation.
Ms Mkhaliphi agreed. She said that the report on naturalisation should not be limited to those who had been granted naturalisation, but also to those whose applications were rejected, the reasons why they were rejected and those applications that were still pending. She reiterated that an inquiry was needed because of the confusion created by the Department and the Minister. The main question that boggled her mind was who had economically empowered Guptas, and why? They had come to South Africa when they were poor, and now they were billionaires.
Mr Hoosen agreed with Mr Chauke’s proposal, and commented that the report on naturalisation was crucial. The Committee should be briefed on the legal advisors’ report when they came back from the Easter recess. There was a need to establish deadlines for the matters to be clarified.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Chauke’s proposal and thanked Members for their inputs. The Committee should move on together to resolve the matter.
The meeting was adjourned.
Follow this committee