This month, before the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture, Justice Raymond Zondo was unequivocal: the 4th and 5th Parliaments failed utterly in their constitutional duty to keep the executive to account.
The 6th Parliament cannot afford to follow the same route.
One of the things that the 6th Parliament can do to ensure we do not follow the same route as our predecessors is to ensure that Ministers appear before portfolio committees and are vigorously asked to account for their departments’ annual financial statements. We need to fearlessly interrogate their performance on key indicators such as building proper school infrastructure and connecting homes to running water and other services.
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.
They have been set to guard over our committees, but in actual fact, they are wolves in shepherds’ clothing.
The ANC candidates
Rosina Semenya, the ANC’s nominee for chairperson of the Human Settlements, Water & Sanitation committee, who earned herself the nickname of “sleepist” during the last Parliament might do nothing worse than doze off while her flock is carried away, and therefore seems almost benign when compared to some of the other dangerous wolves that are set to be handed shepherds’ staffs.
Of particular concern are:
- Mosebenzi Zwane (Transport) – notorious for his role in the Estina dairy farm project, which saw the Gupta family loot millions of Rands 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/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 bride Adv. Vanara.
- Tina Joemat-Petterson (Police) – Joemat-Petterson allegedly sold off the country’s strategic fuel reserves, at well-below market value, without the requisite permission while she was Minister of Energy.
- Dr. 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 (COGTA) – 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.
The individuals above are but a sample of the more problematic candidates.
Others include Mondli Gungubele, accused of misleading the Mphati Commission; Sfiso Buthelezi, who has allegations of corruption against him from his days as Chairperson of the PRASA Board and Mapulane Phillemon, similarly with charges of tender fraud hanging over his head.
The ANC under pressure in the NCOP
In the NCOP, the ANC has a very small majority. They occupy 29 out of 54 seats. This has already caused the governing party interesting headaches.
After realising that in two Select Committees they have only 6 out of 12members, the ANC rushed to add additional members to these committees to ensure that they have a majority.
During the first sitting of the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral Resources and Energy on 26th June 2019, the ANC failed to elect their own nominee, having only mustered 4 provincial votes, while the DA’s nominee received 3. They then insisted on to reconvening an hour later to elect a Chairperson.
The ANC’s inconsistency in applying the Constitution and the Rules of the NCOP were evident during the sittings of other Select Committees. The members of some Select Committees on Finance and Appropriations voted individually to elect Chairpersons while in others voting was on a provincial basis. This is all in a desperate attempt to cling to power.
The DA will be laying formal complaints with Parliament’s Ethics Committee against committee chairpersons with substantial allegations against them, as they should not be eligible for these key positions of responsibility of responsibility they are in.
We will also, where appropriate, be putting forward our own candidates for the positions of committee chairpersons.
During previous Parliaments, at least one House Chairperson would also come from the opposition benches. The 5th Parliament had been the exception in this regard. It is for this reason that the DA moved for an amendment to the ANC’s draft resolution in the NA on Thursday. The ANC used their majority to vote against this.
The DA believes that we have a responsibility to build a strong and capable 6th Parliament that will fearlessly hold the president, ministers, and departments to account. With the country teetering on the knife edge where corruption is still rife, 10 million people are unemployed and citizens do not feel safe in their own homes, elected representatives have a duty to do all they can to fight for the people of South Africa.