Cape Town - Sugar daddies, cocaine, curry, rape and accusations of electioneering all featured at Wednesday’s lively Guptagate debate in Parliament, where MPs had a go at each other while some placed the blame squarely on President Jacob Zuma’s doorstep.
MPs from all parties were united in condemning the use of the Waterkloof Air Force base by the Gupta family, with opposition calls for ministers affected by the incident to step down.
DA chief whip Watty Watson was the first to take to the podium, saying he knew very well that the ANC “didn’t want this debate and delayed it”.
“By the cabinet using officials as scapegoats in this appalling incident, which has become known as Guptagate, this government has made a mockery of the concept of accountability,” said Watson.
He said Zuma was the commander-in-chief “yet he forgets that the buck stops with him”.
“What sort of leader is this?” asked Watson.
DA MP David Maynier said Zuma was the one responsible for creating the “culture of undue influence” referred to in the investigation report by the team of directors-general.
“That is why the president should have been here today, accounting to us in Parliament, rather than hiding away from us in the Union Buildings,” he said.
Maynier said the root cause of the problem which led to the Guptagate scandal was none other than Zuma.
“Years of frustration with President Zuma’s sugar daddies, including the Shaiks, the Reddys and the Guptas, who make up Zuma Inc, exploded,” said Maynier.
Azapo MP Jakes Dikobo also took to the stand during the debate, saying that if South Africa was a woman, “the Gupta incident would amount to rape”.
This led ANC deputy chief whip Mmamoloko Kubayi to raise a point of order over Dikobo’s use of rape to illustrate his point.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota hit out at the ANC, saying the executive ran the country as if South Africans had a “chicken’s memory”.
PAC MP Letlapa Mphahlele said he had been told that some politicians were “receiving money stained with blood and cocaine”. He said if the chartered jet had not been cleared, it should have been impounded by the government.
But unlike most opposition parties, the Minority Front’s Roy Boola came to Zuma’s defence, while attacking the DA.
“(You) can’t say if it snows in Ethekwini it is Zuma’s fault,” said Boola.
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said the probe must have been the easiest investigation for the government considering the “close proximity of the Guptas to the cabinet and the directors-general”.
“This generally corrupt relationship between cabinet and the Guptas has allowed the Guptas to use state-owned enterprises as their cash cow in their controversial free-of-charge breakfast shows with the national broadcaster,” said Holomisa.
ANC MP Annelize van Wyk came to Zuma’s defence, saying the opposition was suffering from “a serious case of election fever and government envy”.
She asked whether the DA “enjoyed the curry”, referring to DA leader Helen Zille’s visit to the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound, where she was served a variety of vegetarian curry dishes.
Van Wyk added there had been no effort to “sweep the incident under the carpet”.
Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe said they had become used to opposition parties “reaching verdicts without any of the facts”.