President Jacob Zuma File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Cape Town – The screws are tightening on the Gupta family, with several key events that could decide their fate.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma will appear in the National Assembly and is expected to face tough questions on his controversial relationship with his influential friends the Guptas. On the same day, the Constitutional Court is to rule on a secret ballot vote in a no-confidence motion against him.

This comes as the citizenship of the Guptas faces scrutiny in Parliament, with Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba expected to be quizzed over the matter.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has also given the Guptas a major blow by indicating she will oppose Zuma’s bid to take the State of Capture report on review.

Anger was palpable on Tuesday among some ANC MPs regarding Zuma’s leadership, suggesting they could vote for his removal if a secret ballot is granted.

Zuma’s power and that of his allies in the cabinet has been shaken in the wake of the Gupta emails, which have raised the stakes in the fight against state capture.

Ministers aligned to the president have been implicated in the email saga, as the ANC at Luthuli House, the party’s headquarters, and Parliament, clamp down on them.

On Tuesday, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, another Zuma and Gupta ally, was expected to answer tough questions at Luthuli House over changes to the Mining Charter. Zwane was not present at the meeting.

The Chamber of Mines told some ANC officials on Tuesday that its lawyers were preparing legal action on the charter, arguing that they were not consulted. They were aggrieved that black ownership in mines had been raised from 24% to 30%, among other concerns.

There are fears of more job losses in the mining industry.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the mining industry was already shedding jobs at an alarming rate and that the management of the charter was vital, as it affected employment and the economy.

Kodwa said consensus had not been reached between the parties and that there would be more talks with the chamber. These would also involve Zwane, he said.

Kodwa said the ANC wanted to ensure that everyone’s view was heard and that all partners in the sector were fully engaged.

“We have met with the Chamber of Mines in the past on certain matters, but if it feels aggrieved and people want to contribute at this point, then we have no choice but to allow that.”

This comes as Zuma prepares for a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly tomorrow and a decision by the Constitutional Court on the secret ballot.

The ANC caucus, led by Jackson Mthembu, will hold a meeting tomorrow before Zuma’s appearance to plan how to handle Zuma’s question-and-answer session and the Constitutional Court decision.

Two MPs told The Star on Tuesday that it was not guaranteed that ANC MPs would vote to save Zuma if a secret vote were granted.

“We are all in Parliament on a party ticket. But in this instance, there are extraordinary circumstances. This is a different moment. You can’t just stick to the party line when the same man is destroying the party,” he said.

“If it is a secret ballot, the man is going to be history. We will be praising and singing (during the session) even when we would vote against him,” he added.

Zuma’s allies in the cabinet have increasingly come under fire at Luthuli House and in Parliament.

On Tuesday, MPs wanted former home affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, another Zuma ally, summoned to Parliament next week to explain the process of making the Guptas South African citizens.

Members of the portfolio committee on home affairs were on Tuesday left fuming after Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize and her director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, failed to attend a meeting to explain the Gupta family naturalisation saga.

Although Mkhize and Apleni were scheduled to address the National Council of Provinces, members of the committee had requested them to appear to explain briefly how the Guptas were given citizenship.

Gigaba, who is now the finance minister, went against the advice of a senior official of the department to waive naturalisation of some of the Gupta family members who did not qualify for the status.

He has since denied that what he did was wrong.

On Tuesday, MPs demanded answers. The ANC’s Maesela Kekana said they could not compromise their integrity.

“This director-general and minister are disrespectful to the committee. These people must come and clarify to South Africans about this matter,” Kekana said.

The ANC’s Donald Gumede said it was important to get as accurate and up-to-date information as soon as possible.

“The people to give that accurate information are the director-general, the former minister and the present minister in their capacity as incumbents to these high offices”.

The Star