ANC clips whip’s wings

2012-01-28 20:13

Concerns raised over his management of the caucus and his ‘unilateral decisions’

The ANC whippery in Parliament has come under party leadership scrutiny for the sloppy handling of the Protection of State Information Bill.

The November meeting of the ruling party’s national executive committee (NEC) ordered that its whippery under Mathole Motshekga be assessed to deal with what some party leaders see as executive weakness.

The party’s political committee, which is headed by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, is expected to submit a report to the NEC around April.

Motshekga and Parliamentary speaker Max Sisulu also sit on the committee.

Three members of the NEC who spoke to City Press say the move is an attempt to curb Motshekga’s influence and power in Parliament.

Motshekga took flak at the NEC meeting for the way he dealt with the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, which is now before a committee of the National Council of Provinces.

Concerns were also raised about his management of the ANC caucus in Parliament, his allegedly sour relationship with his deputy Bulelani Magwanishe, and the fact that the political committee ended up bogged down with “purely administrative (issues)... instead of (providing) broader strategic supervision and political guidance in Parliament.”

An ANC NEC source said: “The whippery is not functioning as it should.”

A source close to Motshekga said some ANC members had been unhappy with the way the chief whip had handled the bill.

They complained that they had not been kept informed about changes made to the bill, an allegation denied by the chief whip.

A senior member of the ANC caucus in Parliament who does not sit in the NEC said the assessment was simply a mid-term appraisal.

He said this was in line with Polokwane resolutions.

“We don’t want to assess people at the end of the term because it looks more like punishment,” said the MP.

The MP said the political committee was asserting itself because the bill had attracted a lot of negative “political attention to each and every leader of the ANC in Parliament”.

But three NEC sources were adamant that the intervention was meant to address weaknesses in Motshekga’s leadership.

“The assessment this time arises out of problems. They must not try to cover up. It is not a mid-term thing,” insisted an NEC source.

Another ex officio NEC member said: “There’s a feeling that Motshekga has not been fully accountable to the political committee. The NEC said the political committee must assert itself more. It has given Motshekga too much space to make unilateral decisions.”

Motshekga said he had kept the political committee in the loop about his work on the secrecy bill.

“In the NEC people can stand up and raise things, but you can’t get the NEC to discuss rumours.

“Also, what I can tell you is that the NEC could not have been unhappy with how I handled the info bill because it was handled by the portfolio committee.

“I was instructed by the political committee to coordinate on behalf of ANC structures so that we don’t disengage ( from the political debates about the bill). Since we got involved we met the Public Protector, we met with Sanef and Cosatu, and the issues were cleared.

“You can see they (Public Protector, Cosatu and Sanef) are not on our case (anymore) and have allowed issues to proceed in the NCOP,” he said.

Motshekga said a technical committee of caucus was working on the assessment and would compile a report that would point out weaknesses and areas that needed improvement.

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