International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane File picture: Jacoline Schoonees

Cape Town - Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has come under fire in Parliament for missing a session where she was supposed to respond to MPs on the granting of diplomatic immunity to Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe.

This has led to Parliament asking Speaker Baleka Mbete and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and haul the minister before the National Assembly.

In a question-and-answer session on Thursday, other ministers were also dragged into the fracas to answer on their involvement that resulted in Grace being given diplomatic immunity. 

Nkoana-Mashabane is currently in Vietnam on business. 

MPs were also not happy about her trip, saying she knew months ago that she had to be in Parliament on Thursday.

In a programming committee meeting, ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu called for the tightening of the rules of Parliament to force ministers to come and account to MPs.

“The absence of the minister of international relations is regrettable. 

“We have raised the matter with the leader of government business. This is not something that reflects on all the members of the executive,” Mthembu said.

“It’s something we need to reflect on in the rules of Parliament.”

But opposition party MPs did not buy the excuses made by ANC ministers for Nkoana-Mashabane’s absence. 

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said ministers were accountable to Parliament, pointing out that it was unacceptable for the minister to have skipped the sitting when she knew from early in the year she had to be in Parliament on Thursday.

Narend Singh, IFP chief whip, also criticised her absence.

Political Bureau