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Ben Martins first sitting MP to be subpoenaed

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Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins will be the first sitting MP to be subpoenaed to give evidence before Parliament.

Members of the Eskom inquiry into State Capture resolved to summon Martins after he refused to attend.

The committee is also grappling with when it should call the controversial Gupta family and whether President Jacob Zuma himself should be called.

Martins gave written submissions responding to the testimony of the power utility’s former secretary Suzanne Daniels.

Daniels said she attended a meeting at a Rosebank flat attended by Salim Essa, the Guptas, President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, and Martins.

Martins denies the meeting ever took place.

The committee is not impressed with Martins’s stance.

“One doesn’t have the privilege of deciding on whether or not you appear before us. We offer you the opportunity, in a polite way, via an invitation to appear before us. But certainly, you are constitutionally obligated to appear before us,” DA MP Natasha Mazzone said.

“I fully support the fact that the honourable deputy minister be subpoenaed, and reminded of the roles and obligations of this committee as well as his rights. He certainly has to come before this committee,” IFP MP Narend Singh said.

The committee also received a letter from the Gupta brothers, who say if the committee wants them to come and testify, it should be on their terms.

“We call on you to detail us with a detailed list of questions that the inquiry would like to put to him in writing… In addition, if Mr Gupta or any member of the Gupta family is required to testify before the inquiry, we ask that you provide a detailed list of questions at least two weeks before the hearing,” inquiry chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said while reading the document.

The terms didn’t go down well with the committee.

“This is a parliamentary oversight committee. It’s not for witnesses to decide on what basis they will attend and what questions will be asked to them,” ACDP MP Steve Swart said.

The inquiry takes a break until January 2018.

Whether it will show the same tenacity in exposing State Capture after the ANC’s elective conference is a question on many minds.

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