Deputy President David Mabuza was ready and willing to answer questions in the National Assembly on Thursday, but was advised against doing so by his medical team.
This was according to Mabuza’s Parliamentary counsellor, African National Congress (ANC) member of Parliament, Hope Papo.
Papo was responding to questions raised by the Democratic Alliance (DA) about Mabuza’s absence during the National Assembly’s programming committee on Thursday morning.
Mabuza had previously asked to be excused from scheduled oral reply sessions in the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the grounds of ill-health.
On Monday, he asked to be excused from Thursday’s National Assembly sitting again, for the same reason.
Questions have been swirling around the well-being of the Deputy President, although his office has said he was “at home and well” and merely acting on medical advice.
DA deputy chief whip Jacques Julius noted Mabuza had been ill “for a very long time” and asked how questions for him would be dealt with, as well as his role as leader of government business.
“I think the executive needs to explain to us, what is happening now, what will we do in terms of getting someone to answer those questions, because the work must continue. Even though we feel for our colleagues that are ill, governance must continue. We need to give the public some clarity, we need to get clarity ourselves…”
Papo insisted Mabuza was not dodging questions:
“The DP wanted to come this week to answer, actually he was ready to come and answer questions. Medical advice said he must just wait a bit and then there was an agreement with the Speaker there would be a mutually agreed date.
“It’s very funny Mr Julius keeps on raising this question as if the Deputy President does not want to answer. Must the deputy president defy medical advice so that he can deal with the public outcry?”
Papo told the meeting that Mabuza was not seriously ill.
“The DP is not incapacitated but he was asked to actually not (come and answer questions) because when (come) you have to speak for a long time, three to four hours – and that actually happens.”
Papo did not give details of the causes of Mabuza’s ill-health
Deputy President David Mabuza said he was ill and would not be able to answer questions in the National Council of Provinces and the National Assembly this month.
Mabuza was scheduled to appear in the NCOP on Thursday, 23 July, and in the National Assembly the following week, on 30 July.
In a statement, Parliament said that both National Assembly Speaker, Thandi Modise, and NCOP chairperson, Amos Masondo, had received an apology from the deputy president.
It said that Mabuza informed them he would not be able to honour his scheduled appearances in both houses of Parliament, due to ill health.
The statement did not indicate the nature of the deputy president’s health issues.
It said Mabuza had undertaken to make himself available to answer questions in both houses once he had fully recovered.
Parliament’s presiding officers have wished Mabuza a speedy recovery.