Parly committee just not cricket, say Guptas, Zuma
The Guptas and Duduzane Zuma have spurned parliament saying the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises is not playing ball
The brothers Gupta and former president Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane spurned parliament on Tuesday, saying the parliamentary portfolio committee on public enterprises was not playing ball.
The Guptas and Zuma addressed letters through their lawyers to the committee, which is investigating state capture, saying they would not be able to appear to answer to allegations of state capture, both for different reasons.
But the committee late on Tuesday said it would now issue a summons to attempt to compel Zuma and the Guptas to appear before the committee – a last-ditch effort to get the state capture accused to come to account.Their expected appearance to answer questions was well publicised following an announcement by parliament last week.
Zuma, through his attorney Gary Mazaham, said at this stage he would not be able to appear before the committee as he had not been provided with transcripts of the allegations against him and therefore did not know what he would be asked.
Mazaham lamented the timeframes given by the committee for Zuma to prepare his submissions saying “written submissions could not be considered nor finalised” even if Zuma had chosen to submit answers in writing.
Zuma and the Gupta brothers were invited on March 1 to answer allegations made against them during previous sittings of the committee and in the public domain.“There was no reasonable possibility that my client could answer questions in respect of the various allegations against him, particularly if all allegations against him and questions in issue are not yet known,” Mazaham’s letter read.
He stated that he was awaiting the transcripts of evidence given by former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana and former Transport minister Ben Martins.
“A formal reply to the invitation to address parliament either by way of submission or by answering questions was sent to parliament timeously,” Mazaham told Times Select on Tuesday afternoon.
“He [Duduzane] believes he has formally addressed parliament to the extent that circumstances at the moment permit.”
Times Select has learned from reliable sources, however, that while the Gupta brothers, and particularly Ajay, have come under fire from law enforcement in recent weeks with Ajay being declared a fugitive from justice, Zuma has not been approached by any law enforcement agencies.
Last month it was announced that warrants of arrest had been issued for Ajay and last week TimesLIVE reported that warrants were also issued for Atul and Rajesh in connection with the corrupt Estina Dairy Farm project.Mazaham said his client would not be drawn on further questions e-mailed to him on Tuesday afternoon, which included if Zuma felt the parliamentary process was fair and whether he was in the country.
The Gupta brothers and their attorney, Rudi Krause of BDK Attorneys, were far less accommodating, accusing the committee of “political showboating”, “grandstanding” and allowing the proceedings to be “televised for the dramatic effect”.
Krause, in the scathing letter, confirms that he acts for Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, and confirms that his clients are not in the country “for business reasons”.“The proceedings are to a large extent an exercise in political showboating by parliamentarians intent either on making political speeches‚ insulting witnesses or otherwise questioning witnesses in a manner which is not conducive to the resolution of identified or identifiable issues.
“The conduct of the proceedings is manifestly unfair and improper,” the letter also states, accusing the committee of “unfair questioning” about “totally irrelevant” issues.
The questioning by the parliamentary committee w,ould not be conducted with any “form of decorum or control” Krause stated.“The questioning of witnesses is allowed in circumstances where the presiding officer appears to be completely unable and unwilling to ensure that the proceedings before the committee are conducted with any form of decorum or control. Witnesses are humiliated and belittled at the will of politicians.
“The witnesses are confronted with allegations which amount to nothing but conjecture‚ speculation and biased conclusions without any underlying evidence.”
The Guptas said they had not received the evidence of other witnesses‚ making it impossible to discern what issues would be dealt with. They said this “speaks volumes for the vague‚ disordered‚ uncontrolled and untrammelled nature of the inquiry”.
“The proceedings are conducted with no effective guidance from the chairperson or anyone with a measure of control over the proceedings …”In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the committee said it had agreed to issue summonses to former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, Zuma and the Guptas.
Myeni has failed to appear before the committee, saying she was ill – but the committee says it has yet to receive a doctor's note.
Chairperson for the inquiry Zukiswa Rantho on Tuesday said Myeni had been invited by the committee twice and both times indicated she could not appear.“Members of the committee said they will not be held to ransom by Ms Myeni as it is in her best interest to appear before the inquiry,” the statement read.
Myeni, in a letter to the committee on Monday, threatened legal action saying she felt her dignity and human rights were being impugned.
“The committee has not received a sick note from Ms Myeni. Members of the committee proposed that an independent evaluation to verify if she is indeed sick [take place],” the statement continued.
“The committee is of the view that it would be impossible to finish the work of the inquiry without the testimony of Ms Myeni including that of Mr Zuma and the Gupta family.”
Rantho said issuing of summons is the last resort the committee had to undertake after invitations were issued without success.Letter from Gupta lawyersLetter from Duduzane Zuma lawyers