Zuma denies Gupta involvement as DA walks out of Parli Q&A

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 17, 2016

The Democratic Alliance (DA) staged a walkout from Parliament on Thursday less than an hour into President Jacob Zuma’s questions and answer sessions, after he alleged that the Rand had been on the downturn before his controversial sacking of former Finance Minister Nhlanhle Nene.

Responding to a question from Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) MP Sibongile Nkomo on his decision to replace Nene with unknown African National Congress (ANC) backbencher David Rooyen in November last year, Zuma said a number of reasons are attributed to the removal and reshuffling of cabinet ministers, but stopped short of going into further detail.

“There were reasons why Minister Nene had to be deployed. These reasons are the reasons of government. The necessary processes were undertaken within the Constitution and the Law. The fact is that the Rand was in trouble before Nene left; and it is also not the first time the markets reacted like this when a finance minister leaves,” Zuma said.

This resulted in DA leader Mmusi Maimane rising on a point order to question Zuma’s remarks. Warned by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete that the session was not for debate, Maimane accused Zuma of not telling the truth, which resulted in him being told to leave chamber.

A shouting match with Mbete followed with the entire caucus departing the chamber, to cries of “you are protecting the Guptas” and “Gupta defenders” directed at Zuma.

Minutes before, Zuma also denied allegations by Maimane that the controversial family had been involved in the appointing of cabinet ministers, after Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas admitted in a statement on Wednesday that he was offered the position in National Treasury weeks before Nene was fired.

“I appointed Jonas as a Deputy Minister. If he said he was offered by the Guptas, I think you should ask them or him. Where do I come in? Don’t ask me, I have no business with that. I am in charge of government, no minister here was ever appointed by the Guptas or anybody else. They were appointed by me”, Zuma fired back.

It has since been reported that a spokesperson for Public Works and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, admitted he was invited to a social engagement with the family, but declined the invite as “he was focused with his work”.