Finance minister Malusi Gigaba confirmed on Tuesday that documents circulated on social media about the Gupta family naturalisation application were genuine.
TimesLIVE reported earlier in the day that Gigaba‚ when he was home affairs minister‚ appeared to have bent over backwards and to award the Gupta family citizenship‚ according to letters leaked by the Economic Freedom Fighters.
One of the letters released by the EFF‚ which appeared to bear Gigaba’s signature‚ was dated May 30‚ 2015. In it Gigaba wrote to Ajay Gupta to tell him that the family’s representations had resulted in their application for citizenship being successful.
“I have decided by the virtue of the powers vested in me under the South African Citizenship Amendments Act to waive the residential requirements in regards to your application for naturalisation and grant you early naturalisation‚” the letter read.
But five months earlier the then director-general of Home Affairs‚ GG Hlatshwayo‚ had written to the family refusing their application on the grounds that they had not lived in South Africa for the required five years.
Gigaba said on Tuesday‚ in a statement issued by the Treasury‚ that he had lawfully approved the application in terms of South African legislation and added that the granting of “naturalisation certificates of this nature is not unusual”.
“The application was handled in line with the procedure that requires that the Department of Home Affairs submits recommendations to the Minister for consideration‚” said the statement.
“The granting of naturalisation certificates of this nature is not unusual. Similar courtesies have been extended to prominent businessmen‚ including executives of multi-nationals‚ and sports people. There is no impropriety on the part of the Minister in relation to how the application in question has been handled.”
He said it was not true that he had “opened the gates” for the Gupta family‚ who had been “permanent residents in South Africa since 2008”.
“There is no ‘bombshell’ in relation to this matter‚ given that everything was done within the prescripts of the law‚” said the statement.
Gigaba has requested‚ in the interest of transparency‚ that the Department of Home Affairs make the motivation pertaining to the Gupta application available to the media.
“I have requested the Department of Home Affairs to provide chronological details of how all applications by the Gupta family have been handled by the Department of Home Affairs from the beginning. We have no doubt that the whole process has been handled by the book in terms of our laws‚” said Gigaba.