The naturalisation of the Gupta family was due to take centre stage today with the Department of Home Affairs’ appearance before a parliamentary committee to explain themselves.

This comes in the wake of EFF leader Julius Malema making public letters that showed an apparent interference by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in the granting of citizenship to the Guptas.

The letters in question showed that Gigaba, the then home affairs minister, overruled a senior official’s refusal to grant the Gupta family citizenship, because they had not lived in the country for five years.

Gigaba has defended his actions, saying he had used the powers granted to him in his previous post, but the EFF has threatened to approach the courts to have the Guptas’ citizenship reversed.

Gigaba has also cried foul over the matter, saying there was a campaign to tarnish his reputation and attack his integrity.

Yesterday, committee chairperson Lemias Mashile said the committee wanted the department to give the committee details about the saga.

“The matter is in the public domain. There are a lot of opinion-makers following what the EFF has said,” Mashile said.

“We want the department to give their position on the matter, so that we don’t continue to misinterpret things.

“Up to now we don’t know, and we want to understand so that we can respond to what is being said,” he added.

Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni was ex- pected to give full details at the meeting with the committee.

The DA’s Haniff Hoosen, who last week requested that Mashile summon Gigaba to account before the committee, said he was cautiously optimistic the department would come and defend their former political head.

In his letter to Mashile, Hoosen stated that he was concerned that the Guptas received preferential citizenship from Gigaba when they failed to qualify to become South African citizens.

“Knowing that Minister Gigaba maintains a suspiciously close relationship with the Guptas, their preferential citizenship must be explained.

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“Gigaba must, therefore, be summoned to appear before the portfolio committee on home affairs in Parliament under oath, in order to testify as to his record of decision for the Guptas’ preferential citizenship and his relationship with the Guptas,” he added.

Hoosen further said he was yet to receive a response from Mashile regarding his request.

“The letter was sent to him the same day I issued the media statement. I still have to hear from the chairman,” he said.

Hoosen also said he was hopeful that Gigaba would appear before the committee to answer questions.

“If he does come, I intend to question him about why he did not report his decision on the citizenship, because he failed to report to Parliament as was required,” he pointed out.

But Mashile said he could not have summoned Gigaba according to the DA’s wishes.

“We don’t work like that. I’m the chairman and I’m leading the committee,” he said.

– The Star

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