Beleaguered Brown quits as MP after 24-year career as public representative

2018-03-01 15:24
Former public enterprise minister Lynne Brown. (Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander)

Former public enterprise minister Lynne Brown. (Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander)

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Cape Town – Beleaguered public enterprises minister Lynne Brown resigned as an ANC MP, bringing to end a career of 24 years as a public representative.

She was left out of the reshuffled Cabinet announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening, and resigned as MP a day later.

Pressure has been mounting on her for months in the wake of revelations relating to state capture at state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Brown has been embroiled in various allegations of impropriety unearthed by Parliament's investigation into state capture at the various SOEs.

READ: Former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown resigns as ANC MP

Brown was replaced by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan who was one of the members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises that formed part of the investigation into SOEs.

Gordhan famously described Brown's testimony before the inquiry as "denial, denial, denial".

When Brown appeared before the committee in November, she said that she did not consult with members of the Gupta family before making decisions. 

This after former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi had testified that Tony Gupta and Gupta business partner Salim Essa had worked with Brown to compile a list of board members that Tsotsi had the responsibility of appointing to head various committees on the Eskom board. 

Tsotsi had alleged that, when he went to Brown's house to finalise the list in December 2014, he had found Tony Gupta and Essa at her home.

"I have never consulted with anyone on my executive functions, not Tony Gupta or Salim Essa or anyone else. Why would I hand over my functions to anyone else?" Brown said at the time.

Her name also cropped up in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report, and the Gupta Leaks revealed that three people close to Brown have links to the Gupta family.

'We wish her well'

Madonsela's successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, found last month that Brown had "inadvertently" misled the National Assembly when she denied that there were engagements between power utility Eskom and Gupta-linked company Trillian Capital Partners in an answer to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.

On Thursday, the office of ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu confirmed that Brown had resigned on Tuesday, the day after Ramaphosa's Cabinet shake-up. 

"Comrade Brown joined the National Assembly in 2014 and had previously served as a member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature in various capacities from 1994 till 2014," reads Mthembu's statement.

"She has expressed her gratitude in having served the people of South Africa and thanked the ANC for having given her the opportunity to do so. 

"We are confident that she will continue serving the country and our movement in other capacities in future. We wish her well."

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomed her resignation, saying it called several times for her to be fired over the past year.

"While we were relieved to see Brown removed from her ministerial position during this week’s cabinet reshuffle, the damage caused by her inefficiency during her tenure has had significant impact on State Owned Enterprise’s which will be felt for some time," said OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage.

Brown, a member of the United Democratic Front in the 1980s, was elected to the Western Cape provincial legislature, where she served as speaker and as MEC for finance and tourism before taking over the reigns as premier from Ebrahim Rasool after the "brown envelope" scandal.

She has often been credited with turning around the province's administration, but the ANC lost the Western Cape to the DA in the 2009 election. Brown was then official leader of the opposition, facing off against Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

Read more on:    anc  |  lynne brown  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  politics

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