Finance minister Malusi Gigaba was forced to defend both his wife and his economic advisor while he also dished out marital advice in his first appearance before his parliamentary oversight committee.
Appearing before the Standing Committee on Finance on Tuesday‚ Gigaba was asked by EFF MP Floyd Shivambu whether his wife Noma had been attending official government meetings with him.
This comes after his wife told a TV station in an interview – that has sparked outrage on social media – that she had helped improve IT solutions related to the processing of passport applications during his tenure at Home Affairs.
But Gigaba said “Mrs Gigabyte” as his IT specialist wife is affectionately known‚ did not influence his work.
“Because you just got married‚ you’ll learn that not only do people outside suggest to you ‘don’t do this’‚ ‘dress like this’‚ you may want to conduct yourself in a particular way. My wife does the same‚” he said‚ also in reference to Shivambu’s wedding two weeks ago.
Gigaba said Noma had referred to helping with passports because “people send her messages‚ ‘Mrs Gigaba‚ can you please refer this issue to the minister’‚ ‘I applied for a passport and this‚ that and the other happened’.”
But he said “she doesn’t impose any opinion or decision on me. What she was saying was that people bring issues to her‚ she brings them to me.”
Gigaba stressed that his decisions were based solely on the advice he received from the department.
He also said claims that Noma Gigaba had assisted with IT solutions for the Home Affairs department were “fundamentally untrue”.
In the interview aired over the weekend‚ Noma said “we did the transfer of technology together” and “I was there helping”.
But Gigaba said “we are making meat out of nothing‚ there is no tender that was brought by the company she works for. There is nothing there‚ we are just making a fuss‚ everyone who is married knows that opinions come.”
He also offered Shivambu some marital advice saying that he would realise that while his new wife‚ who works in the office of National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete‚ would offer him ideas‚ these would not amount to influencing how he played his roles as an MP and an EFF deputy leader and MP.
ANC MP and chairman of the finance committee‚ Yunus Carrim‚ joked that Shivambu’s new bride was an ANC member to which Gigaba responded: “I hope she influences you in that regard. You may want to listen to her‚” adding that she should perhaps tackle his EFF uniform as well.
Gigaba also spent some time defending his controversial economics adviser Professor Chris Malikane‚ whose radical opinions on the economy have ruffled the feathers of some people – among them DA MP David Maynier who said there were mixed messages coming from the Treasury and “you can’t distinguish between messages coming from the finance ministry and ANN7”.
But Gigaba was clear that there was only one minister and only one message.
“There is only one minister and he does not speak with a forked tongue and he has been consistent‚” he said.