ANC regrets Scopa comments

2010-03-14 21:06

Johannesburg - The ANC chief whip's office on Sunday said it "regrets" comments one of its MPs made about ministers having to appear before Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

"We will summon ministers to appear before Scopa, and if they refuse to come, we will subpoena them," MP Mandla Mbili was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying.

"It is a package that goes with their jobs, and they have to comply because they have no choice. If we invite the minister and the minister doesn't comply, we will charge the minister. You must remember that defying Parliament is a criminal offence."

ANC parliamentary caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the party would meet Mbili to clarify his statements.

"We will on the basis of that meeting, decide whether the matter should be referred to the caucus disciplinary committee.

"We wish to stress first and foremost that comrade Mbili has no authority whatsoever to communicate to the media on behalf of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, the Chief Whip or any structure of the ANC in Parliament."

According to the Sunday Times, ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga was previously obliged by party members to write to speaker Max Sisulu, withdrawing a recent statement to reporters that ministers should not have to appear before Scopa, because "they have a country to run".

Mbili said the chief whip had made the statement as an individual, without a party mandate. The matter then had to be clarified in a strategy meeting and a caucus, as it had the potential to cause "serious damage".

Mothapo, in Sunday's statement, denied Mbili's claims, saying: "We are disturbed by the gross misrepresentation, falsehoods and the malicious attack on the Chief Whip of the ANC through references to meetings that never took place and decisions that were never taken by any structures."