DA to oppose ANC's 'rogues gallery' of chairperson nominees in Parliament

2019-07-01 16:13
DA MPs Cathleen Labuschagne, John Steenhuisen and Solly Malatsi address the media on its tactics against the ANC's "rogue gallery" of committee chairperson nominees. (Jan Gerber/ News24)

DA MPs Cathleen Labuschagne, John Steenhuisen and Solly Malatsi address the media on its tactics against the ANC's "rogue gallery" of committee chairperson nominees. (Jan Gerber/ News24)

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The DA will attempt to scupper what it considers to be a "rogues gallery" of ANC candidates to chair parliamentary committees by laying formal complaints with Parliament's Ethics Committee, nominating their own candidates and supporting other opposition parties' candidates.

DA leaders addressed the media in Parliament on Monday, outlining their plans to ensure that committees' oversight work was not hamstrung by errant chairpersons.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen was joined by party leader in the National Council of Provinces Cathleen Labuschagne and national spokesperson Solly Malatsi.

Steenhuisen referred to remarks made by state capture inquiry chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that the fourth and fifth Parliaments failed utterly in their constitutional duty to keep the executive to account.

"The sixth Parliament cannot afford to follow the same route," he said.

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He said one of the things the sixth Parliament could do to ensure that it did not happen again, was to hold ministers who appear before portfolio committees vigorously accountable.

"The truth is, however, that a great many of the ANC's chairperson candidates have allegations of corruption hanging over their heads or have a proven track record of disregard for good governance and disrespect for the institution of Parliament," Steenhuisen said.

"They have been sent to guard over our committees, but in actual fact, they are wolves in shepherds' clothing."

The MPs that they are particularly concerned about (with the DA's concerns in quotation marks), are:

  • Mosebenzi Zwane (Transport) – "Notorious for his role in the Estina dairy farm project, which saw the Gupta family loot millions of rand from the Free State government to pay for a luxurious wedding for their niece." 
  • Supra Mahumapelo (Tourism) – "Gave millions in tenders to the Gupta family and refused to share or release damning forensic reports while cities and towns fell apart and health services in his province all but collapsed."
  • Bongani Bongo (Home Affairs) – "Bongo was the Zuma-deployed Minister of State Security and has racked up numerous allegations of corruption and bribery against him, most infamously during the inquiry into state capture at Eskom, when he tried to bribe Advocate [Ntuthuzelo] Vanara."
  • Tina Joemat-Pettersson (Police) – "Joemat-Pettersson allegedly sold off the country's strategic fuel reserves, at well-below market value, without the requisite permission while she was Minister of Energy."
  • Sibongiseni Dlomo (Health) – "MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal when the collapse of oncology services in that province deprived hundreds of thousands of cancer patients of treatment."
  • Faith Muthambi (Cooperative governance and traditional affairs) – "Generally considered a corrupt and failing minister. She leaked confidential state information to the Gupta family and lied to Parliament's ad hoc committee of inquiry into the crisis at the SABC."

Steenhuisen said the DA would be laying formal complaints with Parliament's Ethics Committee against those who have substantial allegations against them, as they should not be eligible for these key positions of responsibility.

He said the DA would also, where appropriate, put forward their own candidates for the positions or support good candidates from other opposition parties.

He said there have been informal discussions with other parties and one party will abstain from voting.

"What we can't do is allow the ANC to run free."

With the ANC's majority, it is unlikely that other parties' candidates will succeed, unless some ANC MPs break ranks.

'Standing up against wrongdoing'

"I don't think it is futile to stand up against wrongdoing," Steenhuisen said.

Looking ahead, if the DA fails to appoint different chairpersons and while the often slow process of the ethics committee winds on, Steenhuisen said they will have to use parliamentary mechanisms, strategies and tactics "to make it very difficult for those chairpersons". 

He said the rules were clear that a chairperson must recuse him or herself when there is a conflict of interest. The DA could table matters where these chairpersons are compromised and force them to recuse themselves.

"When you have to recuse yourself from 90% of the meetings, people can ask the question: 'Is it appropriate for you to be chairing a committee in dealing with so many matters in which you yourself have a clear conflict of interest?" he said.

He said the courts will not intervene in the internal management of Parliament.

"We'll have to use the political realm and strategy and tactics in the house to run interference and expose, continuously, what a folly it was to appoint these compromised individuals into these key positions here in Parliament, and continuously embarrass the ANC, who will have to take responsibility for the fact that these people are continuously shown up here in Parliament," Steenhuisen said.

The National Assembly's committees will elect chairpersons on Tuesday. The National Council of Provinces elected chairpersons last week.

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Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  cathleen labuschagne  |  john steenhuisen  |  cape town  |  politics
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