President Jacob Zuma told Parliament that he was firmly in charge of the government and in appointing members of the executive.
This is despite the growing list of people coming out with evidence that they were offered top cabinet posts by the Guptas.
In his answer session in Parliament, Zuma denied that he had ever met the Guptas to discuss the job offer for Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas to replace his then boss, Nhlanhla Nene.
Zuma said he was the only leader empowered by the constitution to hire and fire ministers.
But his reply elicited angry responses from opposition benches, with DA members demanding more answers from him. After a heated exchange between DA leader Mmusi Maimane and Speaker Baleka Mbete over the demand by Maimane for Zuma to come clean on the Guptas, the Speaker threw out the DA leader.
He was followed by his entire caucus, with DA members chanting that Zuma was protecting the Guptas.
The beginning of Zuma’s question and answer session was marred by constant interjections by DA MPs to come clean on the Guptas. Zuma told Maimane before he was thrown out that he, as the president, had the power to hire and fire people. He said that if Jonas has admitted he was offered the job by the Guptas, the DA leader should ask either Jonas or the Guptas.
“I am in charge of the government, I appoint ministers,” said Zuma.
“There is no minister who is here who was appointed by the Guptas or anybody else. Ministers who are here were appointed by me,” said Zuma.
Zuma stood his ground, refusing to budge on follow-up questions from United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa and IFP MP Sibongile Nkomo on the alleged influence the Guptas have on him.
He said it was his prerogative to hire and fire ministers. If he consulted, it would be the ruling party that he would consult on the change in his cabinet.
Zuma repeated his claim earlier this year that his axing of Nene did not crash the rand. He said the currency was on a downward slope when he fired Nene in December.
He said there were reasons why Nene had to be redeployed to the New Development Bank. But despite Zuma repeating the story of Nene being ‘redeployed’ to the Brics bank, the former finance minister is twiddling his thumbs at home nearly four months after being ousted from the Treasury.