Shilowa stripped of powers

2010-07-05 00:00

A DAMNING memorandum compiled by three parliamentary whips of the embattled Congress of the People (Cope), which contains allegations of mismanagement of caucus and constituency funds within the party, was used as the basis for the removal of Cope deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa as the party’s de facto signatory on parliamentary accounts.

Cope national spokesperson Philip Dexter confirmed that the decision reached by the Congress National Committee (CNC) meeting on Friday to oust Shilowa, who is also the Cope chief whip in the National Assembly, and Cope’s administrative whip, Lolo Mashiane, was a direct result of that report.

The report was compiled by Cope whips Papi Kganare, Julian Kilian and Trevor Bloem. This memorandum, which made some other recommendations, was submitted to the CNC at the beginning of last month.

The report details allegations of mismanagement of caucus funds and constituency allowances given to Cope by the National Assembly since the establishment of the party’s parliamentary offices. The allegations are mainly levelled against Shilowa and Mashiane.

“The CNC meeting decided to adopt a memorandum of the national whips with recommendations relating to the management of the parliamentary finances of the party. These include a forensic audit of the parliamentary accounts [and] to remove the chief whip of Cope in Parliament as the de facto chief accounting office of the party in Parliament,” Dexter said.

Tozamile Botha was appointed to act in that capacity and Shilowa was also removed as a signatory to the accounts while the forensic audit is taking place.

“Mashiane will also be removed as the duly authorised representative of the party in Parliament and Botha will also serve in this capacity,” Dexter said.

The resignation of Cope parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala was accepted and party president Mosioua Lekota was appointed to the vacancy arising from Dandala’s resignation.

Shilowa and leaders believed to be in his faction boycotted the Friday meeting.

Although Shilowa could not be reached to comment on the latest developments within the party, a statement issued by his faction said the CNC decision was unconstitutional.

According to the memorandum, shortly after Shilowa’s appointment as chief whip last year, “an unacceptable trend developed that schedules of payments were presented with lists of names of individuals and service providers, without invoices or other supporting documentation”.

The whips alleged that after co-signatories to Cope accounts realised that there was no improvement after raising their concerns, they agreed to systematically press for compliance and due diligence.

On certain occasions, they declined to co-sign some of the “irregular” payments.

“Consequently the chief whip arranged with FNB bank to be appointed as the mandatory signatory.

“It is important to note that none of the whips are aware of any whips’ meeting, which according to the chief whip was held on 21 April, 2010, where his so-called mandate was given.”

Among transactions earmarked for criticism by the report are:

• the irregular awarding of the C-Yoyo contract of R580 000 to Cope youth secretary Malusi Booi for the so-called branding of parliamentary offices. No competing tenders were called for and there is suspicion that this company had been awarded the tender before the company was registered with Cipro.

• payments were made to individuals in provinces contrary to the directive that only provincial co-ordinators (secretaries) will be paid from constituency funds.

Dexter said although the CNC meeting was boycotted by the Shilowa faction, the quorum was constituted as 30 out of the 51 CNC members attended.

Cope general-secretary Charlotte Lobe, believed to be on the Shilowa faction, declined to comment.

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