Outrage at ‘plans’ to sack Scopa boss

2008-02-20 00:00

OPPOSITION parties in the province have been enraged by allegations that the ruling ANC is “planning” to sack Jo-Ann Downs of the ACDP as chair of Legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).

A Durban newspaper reported yesterday that ANC MPLs are planning to sack Downs from her position in the oversight body.

It is alleged in the report that the decision was taken by ANC caucus members who feel she is “too critical of the provincial government”.

IFP leader in the Legislature, Lionel Mtshali, said his party views the speculation “in the context of a slow erosion of the democratic institutions” in the province.

“The IFP sees the underhanded attack on the Scopa chairperson in the light of the ruling party’s growing aggression towards independent thinking in a number of democratic institutions and in the media.

“Downs’s sacking, if it indeed happens, will be another chip in South Africa’s democratic façade,” Mtshali said.

DA caucus leader Roger Burrows said there has been ongoing tension between Downs and the ruling party because Downs has “been especially outspoken on critical financial irregularities” in the provincial government departments.

Mtshali said Downs’s sacking willl only serve to conceal “more high-profile revelations of the [provincial] government’s mismanagement”.

The DA said it will not support her sacking and will oppose replacing her with National Democratic Convention (Nadeco) leader the Reverend Hawu Mbatha.

The party argued that Scopa should be chaired by a member of the opposition, able to act independently and not be influenced by the dominant party.

Burrows, who is a member of Scopa, said Mbatha is “in the pocket of the ANC”.

“Here is a man who, on crossing the floor to the newly created Nadeco in 2006, promptly picked a fight with his new leader, Ziba Jiyane, over whether to support the IFP or ANC; a man who, after a succession of expensive court cases, now leads a party that has never fought an election,” Burrows said of Mbatha.

Downs said she had read the news report, but would only comment when and if she is dismissed.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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