FILE: Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies addressing delegates during the Hisense Export conference with African partners.The conference is held at lagoon beach. Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Joe/Argus

Cape Town – South African current affairs, particularly political and parliamentary happenings, had not affected the work of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Minister Rob Davies said on Thursday.

“I don’t think it had impacted on our work on behalf of the country,” he said.

Davies spoke to the African News Agency (ANA) after he and World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director-General Roberto Azevedo participated in a panel discussion at the University of Cape Town (UCT). The theme of the discussion was “The future of the WTO Doha Round of trade negotiations and the implications for Africa’s regional integration”.

The two had also addressed media during a briefing in Parliament on Thursday. Here, Davies had commented on Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, saying he was a man of integrity and honesty.

Jonas is at the centre of revelations by African National Congress (ANC) members that they had allegedly been offered ministerial positions by the controversial Gupta family.

At the UCT discussion, Davies did not make reference to the Jonas-Gupta saga but said that issues such as the changes of ministers and related matters did not deter the DTI from its work.

“It is our mandate and we have to carry out our tasks,” he said.

Davies said, referring to the Oxford Business Report, that foreign investors often regarded South Africa far more positively than citizens themselves.

Davies said investors and his international counterparts – such as recent visitors Saudi Arabia – were happy with South Africa, with its labour, infrastructure, and the general “situation on the ground”.

He did say that what had not been left untouched – but not related to political affairs – was the mining sector.

During the panel discussion, UCT students had the opportunity to ask the Minister and the Director-General questions.

One, from the School of Economics, asked Davies if trade policies was made by the Union Buildings or by Sahara House, a reference to the Guptas.

In his only reference to the Guptas, Davies responded: “Trade policy is made by the Union Buildings.”

“I don’t even know what it’s called [Sahara House], but I know what you mean.”

Davies then stated that the policy framework was in place and decided by members of Parliament.