Photo Illustration: ANA Pictures

Johannesburg - The DA on Tuesday slammed Parliament’s announcement that various parliamentary committees had been ordered to "urgently probe" state capture allegations contained in the leaked Gupta emails, which implicate President Jacob Zuma as well as several Cabinet ministers.

On Monday, Parliament said its House Chairperson of Committees Cedrick Frolick had instructed the chairpersons of the home affairs, mineral resources, public enterprises and transport committees to engage with the affected ministers and get "to the bottom of the allegations".

"While no specific deadline has been set for the submission of the outcome of these investigations, the committees have been urged to begin with the work and report their recommendations to the House urgently," parliament said in a statement.

Reacting to this was the DA’s deputy Chief Whip Mike Waters, who slammed the announcement as merely an attempt to shield Zuma and his Cabinet from answering to serious state capture evidence.

“This half-baked ‘probe’ has been introduced by the ANC in bad faith and without any effort to gain multi-party agreement.

“It is especially exasperating considering the ongoing discussions taking place in the Chief Whips’ Forum around Parliament’s response to allegations of state capture and the “special meeting” of the Forum which is scheduled to discuss, among other things, the Public Protector's State of Capture Report on Wednesday, 21 June.”

Waters said the instruction to the various committees to “ensure immediate engagement with the concerned Ministers to ensure that Parliament gets to the bottom of the allegations” was both disingenuous and an attempt at subterfuge.

Furthermore, Waters claimed the proposal was never brought before the Chief Whips’ Forum for discussion and, as such, ignored the opinion of 12 parties representing millions of voters in Parliament.

Waters also questioned by what authority Frolick issued the instruction, adding that his authority was restricted to “implement[ing] policy or guidelines on the scheduling and co-ordination of meetings of all committees”.

Portfolio committees are allowed to initiate probes themselves or can be instructed to do so by the House; the Chairperson does not have that authority, he claimed.

“Furthermore, the investigation into state capture cannot be narrowly reduced to those four portfolios and cannot be effectively carried out by “engaging” the concerned ministers as several ministers are at the heart of the state capture allegations.

“Indeed, this proposed course of action conveniently side-steps the most prominent member of the Executive, President Zuma, whose relationship with the Gupta family is the very nexus of the state capture allegations.”

Waters added that his party intended to lobby support for its draft resolution into the establishment of an ad hoc committee on state capture.

“This committee will be the only way in which Parliament will be able to hold the entire Executive to account, including the president and deputy ministers, and can easily conduct its business in concert with the relevant portfolio committees.”