Mmusi Maimane. Picture: AFP PHOTO/JOHN WESSELS
Mmusi Maimane. Picture: AFP PHOTO/JOHN WESSELS

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Tuesday that its suspicions that Jackson Mthembu is not interested in holding the African National Congress (ANC) in government accountable have been proven.

It said a statement from the ruling party’s new chief whip, "suggesting that he and his caucus are only prepared to support a debate on state capture and the Guptas in principle, is of no surprise to the DA".

The DA’s John Steenhuisen said Mr Mthembu "is prepared to reduce Parliament’s role and oversight in the ‘state capture saga’ to a mere talk shop in the National Assembly (NA)".

Tuesday’s comments from Me Steenhuisen follow an ANC statement on Monday describing as "imaginary and baseless" the opposition chief whip’s assertion that "Mthembu had agreed to the DA’s opportunistic proposal for Parliament to institute an investigation".

Steenhuisen said on Sunday: "The DA notes … Mthembu’s public support for calls to investigate ‘patterns of state capture’ in SA this weekend‚ and will hold him and the ANC caucus to it in Parliament."

The ANC on Monday denied this and said its chief whip had told "various media houses" when asked "whether the ANC would support a parliamentary debate on the allegations surrounding the Guptas … that‚ as a general principle‚ Parliament as a forum for public debates should never quash multiparty debates".

"However‚ each proposed debate should be subjected to the established parliamentary process for consideration and a decision by all parties‚" the ANC said.

"Only a delusional misapprehension would interpret this clear assertion (on parliamentary debates) to mean the ANC chief whip supports the DA’s proposal for a ‘parliamentary investigation’ into alleged state influence by the Gupta family."

Mr Steenhuisen said on Sunday that his party’s leader, Mmusi Maimane, had moved a motion requesting that the house "establish an ad hoc committee to investigate revelations regarding the Gupta family and their illicit influence over the Presidency and executive", and challenged that‚ if Mr Mthembu "is serious and not merely offering lip service‚ he and his caucus will support this motion" in the National Assembly.

The ANC noted on Monday that Mr Maimane’s proposed motion "was rejected earlier this month".

"Further‚ the allegations relating to the so-called ‘state capture’ are before some state institutions‚ such as the Hawks and the public protector‚ following requests for investigations by certain formations and individuals.

"Parliament should not find itself in a situation where it is conducting parallel investigations."

Mr Steenhuisen countered this on Tuesday by pointing out that an "ad hoc committee … is … empowered by both section 56 of the Constitution and chapter 5 of the Powers‚ Privileges and Immunities of Parliament Act to summon people to give evidence on oath or affirmation‚ or to produce documents".

"Further‚ it is possibly better placed than some of the other investigative bodies in play to make legislative proposals to prevent similar instances of corruption from occurring in future‚" he said.

"The Gupta family’s alleged grip on government business and tender processes has potentially blocked opportunities that should have been accessible to all South Africans.

"The DA will not allow this matter to diminish to a mere ‘pow wow’ in Parliament, and will explore every available avenue to ensure a full parliamentary investigation takes place."

TMG Digital