IFP's Mkhuleko Hlengwa set to become Scopa chair

2019-06-21 14:20
Mkhuleko Hlengwa. (Nasief Manie, file)

Mkhuleko Hlengwa. (Nasief Manie, file)

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The IFP's Mkhuleko Hlengwa is set to become the chairperson of the National Assembly's important watchdog committee - the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), the IFP confirmed on Friday.

In the last week or two, speculation was rife that this would be the case. Despite a mention of the IFP in the list of committee chairpersons the ANC circulated to the media on Wednesday, ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina and secretary general Ace Magashule would not confirm with which party they had been having "political engagements". 

On Friday, IFP chief whip Narend Singh confirmed in a statement that the party had been offered the position of Scopa chairperson.

"We have accepted this offer," he said.

He said they had nominated Hlengwa for the post, "as he has over the past five years been an active member of the Scopa committee and has played a formidable role in holding government departments to account".

"We believe that the offering of this post to the IFP is as a result of our very firm stance and tough position on corruption in holding the executive and all government departments to account," Singh said.

"The IFP is confident that honourable Hlengwa MP will fulfil this role with integrity and diligence."

Opposition chairperson

During the previous term, the widely respected Hlengwa often took errant officials to task in Scopa's hearings. 

It is the convention that the chairperson of this important watchdog committee, which oversees all state spending, is handed to an opposition MP.

The 5th Parliament's Scopa chairperson, Themba Godi, didn't make it back to the National Assembly, because his African People's Convention didn't garner enough votes for a seat.

Hlengwa and the EFF's Veronica Mente were the only two members of the previous Scopa which returned for this term. The EFF has not yet indicated who will represent it on Scopa.

Meanwhile, the DA announced that Alf Lees and Benedicta van Minnen will represent it on Scopa.

Mervyn Dirks to be ANC's whip

The ANC's whip in Scopa will be Mervyn Dirks, who in 2017 was one of a few ANC MPs who tried to derail a debate on state capture.

Dirks was also seen showing a middle finger to opposition MPs. When asked by the presiding officer if he did so, he denied it, even though he was captured in footage of the sitting.

Also in 2017, his then chief whip Jackson Mthembu publicly condemned his behaviour after Dirks allegedly insulted and threatened to assault ANC MP Thozama Mantashe during a short break in proceedings.

She is the younger sister of ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe.

Dirks also called DA MP Phumzile van Damme a "straatmeid" during proceedings in the National Assembly. 

Earlier this year, Parliament's Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests found that Dirks breached the ethical code when he called certain MPs "dogs" on his Facebook page.

In September 2017, The Witness reported that Dirks owed the Msunduzi municipality, of which he was deputy mayor, more than R60 000 for rates and municipal services for his Woodlands property, which he confirmed.

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Read more on:    anc  |  ifp  |  politics  |  parliament 2019

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