Casac expresses doubts about Molefe nomination letter

2017-02-28 16:41
Outgoing Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. (Netwerk24)

Outgoing Eskom CEO Brian Molefe. (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) is demanding to see the African National Congress letter that nominated ex-Eskom head Brian Molefe for a seat in Parliament to check whether procedures were properly followed.

Casac spokesperson Lawson Naidoo said he had been given the runaround.

When he asked to see the letter the ANC is supposed to have sent to the Speaker, Baleka Mbete, informing her of his nomination, Naidoo was told by Parliament that the letter was not for public consumption.

Naidoo said he suspects that there was either no nomination letter ahead of Molefe's swearing in on February 23, or it was not from the proper party authority.

"What are they hiding? This should be a really simple thing - 'Here's a letter saying Mr Brian Molefe will be filling a vacancy'," said Naidoo.

"The implication of this: If such a letter doesn't exist and if the letter doesn't come from the designated authority within the party, then it has serious implications that the Speaker will have acted without proper authority and Mr Molefe's membership [of the National Assembly] is null and void."

READ: Brian Molefe's mansion bonanza

'Speaker entitled to confidentiality'

The addition of Molefe's name to the ANC's candidate list was gazetted on February 14 and he was sworn in as an MP on February 23.

Naidoo believes that because the nomination letter is about a public position, it should be made public.

However, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo disagrees.

Some correspondence is recorded for public consumption, but the Speaker is entitled to keep some correspondence confidential, and she customarily does not release nomination letters, he said.

Mothapo said only the nominating party's secretary general was at liberty to release it to the public.

This would not be the first time the paper trail relating to Molefe's swearing in has been questioned.

ANC 'not at liberty to say'

The ANC in the North West called a press conference last week where officials displayed Molefe's party membership credentials for television cameras to address questions over his standing in the party. A branch in Gauteng had also laid claim to Molefe as a member.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that the ANC does not release copies of nomination letters, and was "not at liberty to say" who had written the letter to Mbete.

Mbete is also the chairperson of the ANC, which has a majority in Parliament.

Kodwa wanted to know why there was no request to scrutinise the nomination letters of around 400 other MPs who sit in the House.

He felt affronted that Casac, which is not a political party, was making the demand and said Casac should ask the ANC itself for permission to see the letter.

He said Molefe's name was put forward by the North West wing of the ANC and was, as always, discussed by the party's top officials.

According to party procedure, one of those officials then writes the letter of nomination to the Speaker.

Molefe resigned from Eskom last November after the Public Protector released a report on an investigation into "state capture" related to allegations that the Gupta family was benefiting from government contracts due to their proximity to some government ministers.

Surprise backlash

Cellphone tower records drawn by the protector showed Molefe in Saxonwold, where the Guptas live, on a number of occasions, insinuating close ties to the family.

As part of the report, cellphone evidence revealed that Molefe and Ajay Gupta, the eldest of the three Gupta brothers, made 58 telephone calls to one another between August 2015 and March 2016 during the period Eskom lent money to Eskom coal producer Tegeta, a company co-owned by President Jacob Zuma's son Duduzane.

In a surprise wave of backlash, ANC allies the SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) complained about the decision to send Molefe to Parliament.

SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin said the nomination was "ill-advised" and "clumsily handled" and felt Molefe should have turned it down because he still needs to clear his name.

"If we were consulted, we would have said it is a very ill-advised move, even for Mr Molefe himself," said Cronin.

Cosatu said it "profoundly disagrees" with the decision to send Molefe to Parliament, and it too felt he should have been allowed to clear his name first.

"It looks like the business as usual mentality still prevails and nothing has changed. Regrettably, this also plays into the narrative that the centre is no longer holding in the ANC and that the movement is not interested in what people have to say."

Read more on:    anc  |  casac  |  brian molefe  |  politics  |  parliament 2017  |  state capture

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