CAPE TOWN – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s first question and answer session in Parliament on Wednesday saw heated exchanges when he was asked about firing his economic advisor and whether it was wise to have his wife accompany him on his recent United States visit.
Gigaba travelled to the US last month where he met with ratings agencies and investors and attended a meeting of the International Monetary Fund.
The Economic Freedom Fighters’ Hlengiwe Hlophe questioned the wisdom of Gigaba’s wife Norma tagging along on his recent visit to the United States.
“Minister, was it necessary to take your wife along? Is it a common practice with the previous ministers to take their wives along? Did she attend any official meeting?
“If she did, what value did she bring to the people of South Africa, because this is the taxpayers’ money…?”
In reply, Gigaba said his wife didn’t attend any of the official meetings.
“Honourable chair, my wife did not attend any official meeting, anywhere. Thank you very much.”
Gigaba declined to answer a Democratic Alliance question as to whether he will sack his economic advisor Professor Chris Malikane, who advocates the nationalisation of banks and the mines and the expropriation of land without compensation.
Then the DA's David Maynier jumped in.
“The minister was accompanied by his economic advisor whose mad ideas would turn South Africa into Venezuela – and this on an international investor roadshow designed to restore confidence.”
Asked if he’d fire Malikane, Gigaba said the question was lower down on the order paper and he would only respond then, infuriating DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
“Ministers are accountable to this Parliament. They must answer the questions put to them. We’re not going to get to that question on the order paper – the minister knows that full well. What he’s trying to do here is dodge questions on his first outing. What a shame.”
(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)