ANC wrangling scuppers public service meeting
Parliament’s public service and administration committee meeting due to take place on Wednesday was quietly taken off the committees programme ahead of time and speculation is growing that this had everything to do with internal ANC dynamics.
The committee is stuck in limbo after chairwoman and ANC MP Makhosi Khoza’s presumed resignation as chair of the committee following her vocal criticism of President Jacob Zuma in the run up to this month’s vote of no confidence.
After Luthuli House made it clear that it had its sights on MPs who openly defied the party’s call for unity in defence of Zuma, five ANC MPs boycotted Khoza’s committee meeting until "appropriate action" was meted out on her.
However, Khoza told Business Day earlier this week that she had not resigned and without a decision by the committee itself that she be removed, Khoza and the opposition maintain that she is still the chair.
When asked if the ANC parliamentary caucus was aware of the reasons the meeting was taken off, spokeswoman Nonceba Mhlauli said: "The ANC parliamentary caucus does not schedule committee meetings."
Committee member for the Democratic Alliance Thomas Walters told Business Day that he had not been provided any reasons for the removal of the meeting from the programme. He said the cancellation was a sign of discord in the ANC caucus over the vote fallout.
"It just didn’t happen. It’s quite obvious the ANC did not want an embarrassing situation. In other committees we have seen that the ANC is at each others throats as to what they should do as a party since the vote of no confidence," said Walters.
Walters said by ducking out of the meeting as scheduled, the ANC inadvertently strengthened the DA’s case for the dissolution of Parliament as internal party politics was clearly hobbling the work of Parliament.
"This is why we are calling for the dissolution of Parliament and a snap election. We cannot have a party that will suspend the business of Parliament just because it is not convenient for them to continue," he said.
Political analyst Karima Brown told Business Day that the ANC was divided as a party, parliamentary caucus and as committee members on how to deal with the storm surrounding Khoza.
"I think the fact that the committee didn’t sit today is a function of the divisions in the party and the caucus and the committee. Many ANC MPs want to work with the opposition to bring about accountability," said Brown.
Brown said the manner in which the ANC has handled the situation allowed the DA an opportunity to show the governing party up, particularly during Wednesday’s session of oral replies by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in the National Assembly, where DA leader Mmusi Maimane put the deputy president on the spot about party politics.
"I think the ANC is deeply embarrassed because it would appear that Khoza’s removal was not done according to procedural. It’s evident in the fact that Maimane put the question to Cyril around the notion of a witch hunt. The ANC wants to dot its i’s and cross its t’s and make sure that the removal is procedural," she said.
While there has been no clear indication of when the public service and administration committee will meet again, a possible meeting may be scheduled to take place next week. At such a meeting the committee would be expected to remove Khoza formally and, perhaps, elect an acting chair.