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Parliament - The knives were out in the National Assembly on Tuesday, as a group of African National Congress MPs, critical of its own chief whip Jackson Mthembu, tried to prevent a debate on state capture and Parliament's duty to investigate allegations from taking place.

The same group of Members of Parliament (MPs) on Monday night, appeared on ANN7, a television station linked to the Gupta family, who are at the centre of state capture allegations in South Africa. 

The MPs, which included Sibusiso Radebe, Loyiso Mpumlwana, Mervyn Dirks, Freddie Adams and Stan Maila, had a go at Mthembu, saying the fact that he agreed to the debate showed he sided with the "racist Democratic Alliance, the DA on a biased parliamentary debate on state capture".

"It would seem ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu is deliberately defying the President and his own colleagues in the ANC caucus who have called for a more inclusive process to investigate state capture...this concession to DA is unprecedented and shows that a pro-white monopoly capital faction has emerged inside the ANC parliamentary caucus," Mpumlwana told ANN7. 

This prompted Mthembu to release a statement shortly before the debate started, decrying the "unfortunate public utterances by five ANC MPs".

"Through its conventions and practices, Parliament has overtime established a rotational basis within which political parties introduce motions for debate in the National Assembly. Today is the DA’s turn for such a motion for debate," Mthembu's office said.

"The insinuation that the majority party in parliament can direct the opposition what their motions for debate ought to be, and vice versa; is not only malicious, but also very dangerous to the functioning of a healthy multi-party democratic parliament."

Mthembu said he had "escalated" the utterances to ANC headquarters, Luthuli House.

As the ANC MPs tried to stop the debate, citing a rule of "anticipation", Thoko Didiza, who was chairing the debate, would have none of it.

Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip John Steenhuisen referred to the errant ANC MPs as a "gang" trying to prevent the debate. His speech was interrupted several times by the MPs, resulting in the respected Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi asking Didiza: "I don't see why don't you use your powers to chuck them out of the House."

Steenhuisen decried how state capture allegations had led to a lack of trust in Parliament.

"Public trust in Parliament declined massively from 65 percent in 2009 to just 38 percent in 2015. And the question we have to ask ourselves is why? Well when you begin to “join the dots’ it’s easy to see: in 2009 Mr. [Jacob] Zuma was elected as the President and set about turning this Parliament into his poodle and adding it to his growing collection of captured institutions."

Steenhuisen said the only committee which have strongly taken to heart requests by Parliament for them to "urgently probe the allegations" was the public enterprises committee which has started its probe into state capture allegations at Eskom.

"Members of all parties on this committee must be complimented on their bravery, work and dedication to date in difficult circumstances," he said.

"They have been relentlessly attacked by members of the executive hell-bent on ensuring that the truth does not come out. And as late as yesterday evening by their own six colleagues."

ANC MP Lusizo Makhubela-Mashele conceded that Parliament did not always use its powers of subpoena to get answers.

"Perhaps we must admit as members of this House we have not being this to the fullest of our ability. Hence when our committees began to entrench and do oversight in recent months, we've seen that some officials in state-owned enterprises have been exposed and their disdain toward the people's representatives of Parliament."

Makhubela-Mashele however believed that the DA's introduction of the debate could jeopardise the work of parliamentary committees probing state capture.

"We must agree that this motion that the DA brought before the House is premature and seeks to undermine the very work before the committees on allegations of state capture being tested and investigated."

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Thembinkosi Rawula was brutal in his attack of the ANC, President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family, saying "industrial looting on a massive scale" was taking place with law enforcement agencies doing little to stop the scourge.

"The police, the [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation known as the] Hawks and the SIU [Special Investigating Unit] are sleeping while the looting is taking place. It's up to Parliament to take decisive action...before there is nothing left to protect," said Rawula.

After the debate ended, Buthelezi took it upon himself to congratulate Didiza for how she handled the debate, also lauding two cabinet ministers -- Gugile Nkwinti and Siyabonga Cwele -- for remaining in the House for the debate when most of their cabinet colleagues had left. At this stage, an ANC MP shouted "Bongo is also in the House", referring to State Security Minister Bongani Bongo.

Bongo has been accused by parliamentary law advisor, Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, of offering him a bribe to step down from his role as evidence leader in the Eskom inquiry.

Over the past few months, allegations on how much power the Gupta family wielded over decisions at state-owned enterprises, have surfaced in email leaks and in claims by whistleblowers.

It's alleged the family, through various companies, have made billions off the state in either kickbacks from other firms winning contracts from state-owned companies or directly through their businesses.