MPs give Denel chair Mantsha a drubbing

Cape Town – Denel board chairperson Dan Mantsha received a longue-lashing from Members of Parliament on Wednesday for disrespecting the institution and not being forthcoming with information.

Denel was asked to appear before the portfolio committee on public enterprises to give an update on the suspension of senior officials and the intended joint venture with the Gupta-linked VR Laser Asia.

Before the meeting started, MPs objected because the content of the presentation was a replication of information provided earlier. Committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho, also an ANC MP, however ruled that the meeting should nevertheless continue.

Pravin Gordhan, former finance minister and recently appointed as ANC MP on the committee, agreed with Rantho, saying Denel should carry on with its presentation. “Let’s go. There are contradictions in the presentation. We must get Denel here as often as we can and not only read about them in the newspapers. We must find out who they really serve.”

In his introduction Mantsha hit back, saying it’s the “seventh” time that the state-owned entity has been asked to appear before Parliament.

“At every instance we’ve always attended promptly as requested. I’d like to place it on record that we serve the Republic (of South Africa) with pride and dignity and commitment. We have been given responsibility to lead Denel and we’re doing so diligently. It appears one among you seem not to understand this,” Mantsha said in reference to Gordhan’s comment.

Rantho stopped Mantsha and told him that he had started off on the wrong foot.

“You’ve given us this information six times. Now you cast aspersions on members and say we’re brainless. You can’t speak to Members of Parliament who’ve been sworn in under oath like this. We ask you to apologise.”

Natasha Mazzone, Democratic Alliance spokesperson on public enterprises, also lambasted Mantsha for his comments. “You represent South Africa because you were employed. I am here (as an MP) because I was voted in.

“You account to me when you come here. It’s my job to hold you to account. If you wish not to account you can leave and we’ll find other measures to hold you to account. That’s why you’re called here again and again. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of Parliament,” Mazzone said.  

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