Minister Des van Rooyen must reveal truth behind Gupta connections
6 December 2016
A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Des Van Rooyen, attempted to hide behind the sub judice rule to evade answering questions put to him about his relationship with Eric Wood from Trillian Capital, a Gupta-affiliated company, and Ian Whitely.
This is another blatant and condemnable attempt by the Minister to hide the truth and avoid accountability at all costs.
The DA put the question to Van Rooyen as we suspect that he met with Wood and Whitely to allow Gupta-linked companies to gain access to the more than R400 billion in municipal expenditure, and that Van Rooyen's appointment as Minister of COGTA was merely another way for Gupta’s linked companies to unduly benefit from the state.
Minister Van Rooyen must immediately come clean and answer the questions, which have a direct bearing on his competence and fitness to hold office.
The Minister should be aware that the sub judice rule (and Rule 89 of the Rules of the National Assembly) does not prohibit the asking or answering of questions on any matter before the courts, but only prevent a discussion on the merits of the case.
In fact, Rule 89 is clear in this regard:
No member may reflect upon the merits of any matter on which a judicial decision in a court of law is pending.
Furthermore, in the Midi Television case, the Supreme Court of Appeal held that there had to be a demonstrable and substantial prejudice to the administration of justice for the sub judicerule to be applicable.
The Minister has an obligation to answer Parliamentary questions honestly and cannot hide behind sub judice, as it is not applicable in this case.
Accordingly, Minister van Rooyen must now answer, as he is obligated to:
- Whether he had any discussions or correspondence with either Eric Wood or Trillian Capital (either directly or through his chief of staff/special advisor Ian Whitely), regarding the use of municipal assets as security for debt financing;
- If so, what were the nature of these discussions;
- Whether any benefit accrued to any party as a result of such discussions;
-In terms of what court matter he seeks to claim the matter is sub judice.
The DA has already reported Van Rooyen to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, for misleading Parliament and the public, when he stated in a reply that he had never visited the Gupta residence in Saxonwold, which was blatantly untrue.
The Democratic Alliance will continue to probe all allegations of state capture, and will seek to hold public officials and office bearers accountable where they are implicated. South Africa is not for sale to the highest bidder, regardless of our current government’s political connections.
Issued by Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 6 December 2016