Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba must have fallen very suddenly ill on Wednesday as at least one reliable source tweeted that they saw him that morning looking healthy.
The minister skipped a Q&A session in parliament later in the day, offering an unsigned sick note. His absence caused such a stir that the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi and Floyd Shivambu were kicked out of the National Assembly after Ndlozi accused Gigaba of being a pathological liar and refused to withdraw the comment, pointing out that the high court had also found Gigaba had lied under oath.
Speaker Baleka Mbete has faced criticism for her decision to kick out the MPs, as it is not unconstitutional to call a fellow MP or a Cabinet member a liar. Statements of such a nature in parliament are usually protected by parliamentary privilege.
Former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni had earlier also claimed to be too sick to fly to Cape Town to testify at a parliamentary inquiry into Eskom.
Long-time journalist and author Babalo Ndenze tweeted on Wednesday that he had seen Gigaba with a parliamentary colleague that morning looking “very well”.
Ndenze’s tweet has been widely circulated.
I saw Malusi Gigaba having a chat with a Parly media gallery colleague near the stairs to Imbizo this morning. He looked very well.
— Babalo (@BabaloNdenze) March 7, 2018
In Gigaba’s absence in Pretoria, his department’s director-general, Mkuseni Apleni, also had to correct an apparent error on the part of his principal yesterday. Gigaba had said on Tuesday that Atul Gupta was not a South African citizen. That turned out to be untrue, as he had been naturalised since 2002 and was even on the voters’ roll.
Apleni claimed Gigaba had erroneously conflated brothers Ajay and Atul Gupta. Ajay Gupta only had a permanent residency permit as he had refused to renounce his Indian citizenship. India does not allow dual citizenship.
The Guptas’ properties in India were raided by tax authorities this week, allegedly on suspicions of money laundering. Documents and computers were reportedly seized.