Embattled South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has resigned.
President Cyril Ramaphosa received Gigaba’s letter of resignation on Tuesday, a day before the president was meant to take action against him after the public protector found that he had violated the constitution and the executive code of ethics when he lied to the court regarding the Fireblade Aviation matter.
‘‘The president has accepted the minister’s resignation and expressed his appreciation for minister Gigaba’s longstanding service to the government and people of SA,’’ the presidency said in a statement.
‘‘Minister Gigaba indicated in his letter of resignation that he was stepping aside for the sake of our country and the movement to which he belongs. And further to relieve the president from undue pressure and allow him to focus on improving the lives of the people of SA and for him to do the best he can to serve the country and save it from this economic meltdown.’’
Difficult two weeks
It has been a difficult two weeks for Gigaba, who saw the Constitutional Court dismissing his application to appeal a judgment that he lied under oath. The matter also related to the Fireblade case.
On October 29, the apex court dismissed Gigaba’s application for leave to appeal, saying it ‘‘bears no prospects of success’’. This was the fifth blow Gigaba suffered in the courts in relation to this matter. The judgment was handed down two days before public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released her findings against him.
Mkhwebane investigated a complaint laid by DA parliamentary chief whip John Steenhuisen after the high court in Pretoria found in December 2017 that Gigaba had told “untruths” under oath in the matter between him (in his capacity as home affairs minister) and the Oppenheimers’ Fireblade Aviation, in a legal battle about operating a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.
Mkhwebane said Steenhuisen’s allegation was substantiated and gave Gigaba an opportunity to respond, but he failed to do so.
She then directed Ramaphosa to take appropriate disciplinary action against Gigaba for violating the constitution, the ethics code, and parliament’s own code of ethics.
Fireblade took Gigaba to court in 2016 after he rejected its application to operate a luxury international terminal at OR Tambo International Airport. The Oppenheimers accused Gigaba of reversing his approval under pressure from the Gupta family, exerted through the former chair of Denel, Daniel Mantsha. Fireblade leases the terminal land from Denel.