File picture: President Jacob Zuma

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday told the National Assembly he has never sought to have state contracts awarded to his family, but restive opposition MPs refused to accept the blanket response.

"I have never sat in a meeting and asked anybody to help Duduzane," Zuma said after MPs demanded to know, in particular, whether his son had been favoured for state business.

Zuma then failed to answer a question from Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane as to whether he would sue Brent Simmons, the chief director of public service and administration, who has submitted an affidavit to Speaker Baleka Mbete in which he accused the president of lying to Parliament when he claimed he had not introduced family members to government officials as business contacts.

The Sunday press reported that Simmons apparently cited a number of incidents in which he claims to have seen Zuma “directing” members of his family to the late public service and administration minister, Collins Chabane

Zuma ignored the question, then insisted he had answered it after DA MPs chanted "answer the question".
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said he had not, but had, in fact, frustrated the process and asked Mbete to compel him to answer the question.

She replied that she was not entitled to prescribe to the executive how to answer a question, prompting Steenhuisen to say the proceedings were a sham if she would not ensure the president answered questions.

There was a supplementary question from Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema, who was interrupted by objections from the African National Congress (ANC) benches when he for the umpteemth time addressed Zuma as "Baba kaDuduzane", or the father of Duduzane.

Malema, too, asked why Zuma had failed to sue those who had made serious allegations against him, and whether this meant that their claims were true.

"Why don't you take action to protect the good image of the office, even if you don't care personally," Malema asked.

Zuma said many people said negative things about him every day.

"I don't take actions against people like yourself generally, I don't do it," Zuma said and chuckled after Mbete switched off Malema's microphone, leaving him to gesticulate.

The opposition had raised points of order protesting against Zuma's presence in the house and continued presidency for half an hour before he could speak.

African News Agency