During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s question-and-answer session in parliament on Thursday, ANC MP Judith Tshabalala hit back at Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane’s surprise question on the contents of a letter in which then ANC secretary-general Zweli Mkhize thanks Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson for a R3 million donation to the party.
In response, Tshabalala brought up a blast from the past – a R200,000 donation the Guptas once made to the DA.
“Firstly, the leader of the opposition should have given us the letter written by the leader then, Helen Zille, receiving an amount of R200,000 from the Guptas themselves, that’s the message we should be concerned about, not the letter from the ANC. You must not throw stones when you live in a glasshouse,” Tshabalala said.
“This is questions for the president not questions for the leader of the opposition,” was DA chief whip John Steenhuisen’s response, which was rejected by Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise as “not a point of order”.
A letter showing Zille thanking Atul Gupta for a donation back when she was DA leader has since been circulating on social media, but this has been public knowledge for some time, and was addressed in parliament in 2013. Zille said at the time that the donation, paid in late 2009 and early 2010, was made before the Guptas were involved in any scandals.
A News24 article written at the time reports that Zille said she would not pay back the money at first, but by 2017 new DA leader Mmusi Maimane had indicated that they had paid the donation back in full.
“GFGI,” tweeted Zille in response to a user who shared the letter, tagging Zille’s account. This is an internet slang abbreviation meaning “Go f***ing Google it”.
In case anyone does not want to Google it, Zille also explained the donation when The Citizen sent her a question on it.
“When I was DA leader many years ago, a DA colleague Chris Hattingh said that Sahara computers would give the DA a donation. The DA fundraising dept made an appointment to meet at Sahara’s office.
“When I arrived I was told that the meeting venue had changed. I went to the new venue which turned out to Saxonwold. DA always sends two people to fundraise so that there is an independent witness. Ian Davidson came with me.
“I asked for R200,000 as I remember and they gave it to me. This was long before the Guptas became notorious. When they did, the DA paid the money back,” she said.
Tshabala brought up the Gupta donation on Thursday as revenge for Maimane having produced a letter which appears to show then ANC secretary-general Zweli Mkhize thanking Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson for a donation of R3 million.
Ramaphosa craftily used the findings of the public protector in her recent report as a reason for not addressing the letter in parliament.
In her report which said he had misled parliament last year when Maimane confronted him with bank statements showing R500,000 Watson paid to the president’s son Andile, she said rather than trying to explain the payment at the time Ramaphosa “should have allowed himself sufficient time to research on a well-informed response”.
“One of the observations that were made by the public protector against me was that when Honorable Maimane played the same sort of gimmick, the public protector said: ‘Mr President, when that was done to you, you should have asked for a copy and say you’ll deal with it later,’” Ramaphosa said.
“I want to say to Mr Maimane, please give me that letter so that I can reflect on it,” he added.
— Helen Zille (@helenzille) August 23, 2019