WATCH: ‘Magashule faction heavies’ or ‘capable comrades’? DA, ANC face off over committee chairpersons

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The ANC insisted its choices for chairpersons of the National Assembly’s committees are “capable comrades” who are not there to serve a certain faction, but the DA is still railing against what it considers to be compromised “Magashule faction heavies” as committee chairpersons.

The National Assembly’s committee chairpersons were elected on Tuesday, with the DA nominating their members in some committees, like the portfolio committees of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, home affairs, police and transport. 

None of its members were elected, with only the DA voting for them, and other opposition MPs abstaining.

“Instead, ANC members sitting on these portfolio committees elected to support deeply compromised candidates that have been at the forefront of state capture and looting of national, provincial and municipal governments,” DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said in a statement.

“This cast of characters now heading up Parliament’s portfolio committees include Zupta-era stalwarts and Magashule faction heavies such as Supra Mahumapelo, Faith Muthambi, Mosebenzi Zwane, Sfiso Buthelezi and Bongani Bongo.”

Several of them denied that they have been placed in Parliament to do the bidding of any faction.

“I think it is utter nonsense,” Faith Muthambi, a Jacob Zuma-era minister of communications and public service and administration, said shortly after her election as chairperson of the portfolio committee on cooperative governance and traditional affairs. 

“Because all of us, we are leaders in our own right. We are all members of the ruling party,” she added. “No reasonable person would then act against his own party mandate. We are here, we complement each other.

‘That is utter rubbish’

“So, I need to allay that fear, to say there is nothing like that. I will say that is utter rubbish, because all of us, we are here with the same mandate.”

Mahumapelo was nonchalant about the “brouhaha”.

“If you leave out of the equation all the brouhaha outside, and you just focus on what was happening here in the committee, you’ll see that there’s nothing to worry about. We must just focus on the work that we are doing,” he told the media shortly after his election as chairperson of the portfolio committee on tourism.

“As a politician, we all have to know that there will always be issues about us. The most important thing is to keep focused on the strategic objectives. So, it’s not for the first time, it’s not the last time, those issues will continue to be there for the rest of my life in this committee and I think for the rest of my life on this planet.”

‘I will be exonerated’

Former minister of energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson, under whose watch South Africa’s oil reserves were allegedly sold off illegally, said after her election as chairperson of the portfolio committee on police: “I appreciate the objection by the Democratic Alliance. There has been a forensic investigation into the matter – the sale of the strategic stock. I do believe that when the outcome of that forensic investigation is made public, I will be exonerated.”

Zuma-appointed former minister of transport Joe Maswanganyi was elected as chairperson of the standing committee on finance. 

After the meeting, he told journalists: “If the IEC has cleared names, who are we to say they can’t be here?”

He said the IEC had found nothing “untoward”.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina attended the elections of Muthambi, Joemat-Pettersson and Mahumapelo.

She said, after Muthambi’s election, the party had deployed “capable comrades” and if anything came out in investigations against the chairpersons, the ANC would act accordingly.

“If there are certain issues raised about our members, I must also be in those meetings, so that you hear what those issues are. So that if further investigations are needed, one can do that having been informed what has been raised about our members,” Majodina said, explaining her presence.

Initially, the ANC nominated Zukiswa Faku to be the chairperson of the portfolio committee on basic education. After a public outcry over the conviction of the former mayor of Buffalo City on nine counts of fraud relating to the use of her official credit card, the ANC withdrew her name.

READ MORE: ANC withdraws convicted fraudster’s nomination to chair Parliament’s basic education committee

Faku was sentenced to three years’ house arrest and community service in 2016, while she was an ANC MP. She stayed on as an MP pending an appeals process. On Tuesday, Majodina said she gave Faku a leave of absence to determine the status of her appeal. By Friday, Faku could not present a written statement on how far it is.

“So, we had to take a decision to put her aside, not put more pressure on her and allow Parliament not to be held to ransom. We must continue with the work of Parliament,” Majodina said.

ANC MP Bongiwe Mbingo-Gigaba was elected unopposed as chairperson of the portfolio committee on basic education.

Steenhuisen said the DA would not stand idly by and allow the ANC to set the sixth Parliament up for failure. 

“We will be submitting complaints against the wholly unsuitable ANC chairpersons to the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests. We will do everything in our power to make sure that the sixth Parliament becomes a beacon of hope in the next five years, rather than a hollow institution at the mercy of ANC factions,” he added. 

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