Tony Leon: Parliament will battle under Baleka Mbete

2014-05-22 08:26

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Former DA leader Tony Leon has slammed Baleka Mbete’s appointment as Speaker of Parliament, saying that she was unlikely to do her job properly.

In an interview with City Press in Joburg yesterday, Leon, who was an MP from 1994 to 2009, said Mbete’s “first job is going to be to protect the executive”.

Mbete is also ANC chairperson and has defended the R246 million upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

She was Speaker previously from 2004 to 2008.

“One of the saddest days to me was when she was Speaker and the only person we actually sent to prison for defrauding Parliament, Tony Yengeni – she was in the frontline at Pollsmoor Prison cheering him on.

“And when the Speaker of Parliament goes to applaud a convicted criminal for going to jail for defrauding the institution she is head of, then it follows [that she will protect the executive].”

Leon said former Speaker Frene Ginwala was “on most occasions quite independent minded”.

But he said he was shocked in recent times when former Speaker Max Sisulu was “summoned” to Luthuli House to explain himself after appointing an ad hoc committee to look at Zuma’s response to the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla.

“Then Luthuli House decided they didn’t need to bother in the future, they would just send Luthuli House directly to Parliament.

“So whatever space and independence existed between the ANC high command and Parliament is now being eliminated. If you make the chairperson of the most powerful party in the country the Speaker of an institution that is supposed to have institutional autonomy, you close that space,” he said.

“I think Parliament is going to battle to fulfil its core duty, which is holding the executive to account.”

» Read the full interview with Tony Leon about his book, Opposite Mandela, in City Press on Sunday.

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