Only the truth will set Gigaba free

Image: Esa Alexander

There was a time when the name Malusi Gigaba was always one of the first names to be mentioned when political pundits were asked to identify those they believed would be future South African presidents.

He seemed to be living up to his middle name, Nkanyezi, as his star shone the brightest among a group of young parliamentarians in the early 2000s.

Although an ANC Youth League president at the time, his talents were not limited to rubble-rousing like his predecessors such as Peter Mokaba and Lulu Johnson. He was highly educated; well-spoken and always seemed at ease discussing complex policy issues.

When then president Thabo Mbeki appointed Gigaba as deputy minister of home affairs, many in the ANC saw it as a positive step - an investment into the party's and the country's future.

But today Gigaba has become so discredited that the news that he was moving back to home affairs as minister following President Cyril Ramaphosa's cabinet reshuffle was received with incredulity. How could Ramaphosa, a president who rose to the highest office in the land on the back of promising to root out corruption and state capture, kept a man who is so deeply implicated in aiding and abetting the Gupta family in their nefarious scheme?

The president probably believed that axing Gigaba from finance was punishment enough and that he could do no further harm if sent back to home affairs. Well, it has hardly been two weeks and Gigaba already finds himself entangled in a new web of Gupta controversy over their South African citizenship.

He failed to appear before parliament, reporting sick, yesterday when he was to be grilled about contradictions in his statements about Atul Gupta not being a South African citizen when information from the electoral commission and elsewhere indicates that he is.

It may be too late for Gigaba to redeem himself in the eyes of South Africans, especially after this latest controversy. His dream of one day becoming president have certainly gone up in smoke.

However he can still ensure that his name does not end up on the wrong side of history by owning up to his role in doing favours for the Gupta family. It is not too late for him to "unburden" himself by telling the nation the truth.