The disturbing question is, can the Guptas be sincerely probed?

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday rejected an allegation by an opposition party MP that Rome was burning while he was fiddling – a reference to the time it was taking for him to institute a probe into allegations of state capture.

Responding to MPs in his quarterly questions-and-answer session, Zuma insisted enough was being done to probe the allegations that the Gupta family was influencing key government decision and milking the fiscus.

“The fact is the former public protector investigated – that was something being done. Some of the aspects of the report has been taken on review. I can’t be saying while Rome is burning, people are just sitting.”

Zuma said even Parliament had instructed its committees to probe allegations of state capture contained in, among others, a trove of emails which reportedly link various government decisions to the Gupta family. Without committing to timelines, Zuma re-iterated that a judicial commission of inquiry will be appointed to probe the allegations.

“We are moving as fast as possible to establish the commission.”

Zuma is challenging a recommendation by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that the chief justice appoint the commission chairperson, arguing that according to the Constitution he was the only one who could appoint a commission of inquiry.