Faction-ridden ANC poised to appoint portfolio committee chairs
The faction-ridden ANC is expected to announce its candidates to chair parliamentary portfolio committees this week.
A caucus meeting called to announce the governing party’s candidates to head the committees was aborted last week.
Business Day’s sister newspaper The Sunday Times reported that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule planned to make the announcement at a caucus meeting on Thursday.
The newspaper claimed that Jacob Zuma loyalists such as Mosebenzi Zwane and Faith Muthambi had been brought in as committee chairs. The caucus meeting was however was not allowed to go ahead after the president was alerted to it, the newspaper reported.
Historically, the revolts against former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Zuma are said to have started in the caucus, before spreading to the broader structures within the party. This makes it key for Ramaphosa to have a solid grip on the parliamentary caucus.
Nonceba Mhlauli, spokeswoman for the caucus, said the announcement of who the ANC would field as committee chairs was expected to take place this week.
ANC spokesman Pule Mabe said the announcement was expected in “due course” and party officials were “working together and reading from the same script”. He could not say whether consultations on the positions were still taking place, or whether these had already been concluded.
The ANC saw a slew of resignations from former cabinet ministers last week ahead of the scheduled caucus meeting. Prominent among them was Zuma-backer ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, a key Ramaphosa ally.
Five new MPs are expected to be sworn in on Tuesday.
The ANC holds the majority in the portfolio committees, with six of the 11 committee members set out for the ANC, two for the DA, one for the EFF and two from other parties.
Committees have not yet started their work, but a heavy workload awaits them when they start functioning. The justice and correctional services portfolio, for instance, will have to conduct an inquiry into public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
Speaker Thandi Modise confirmed to DA chief whip John Steenhuisen last week that his request to institute removal proceedings against Mkhwebane would be referred to the justice and correctional services portfolio committee. The DA previously attempted to have Mkhwebane removed from office, but failed.
The party submitted its second request to have her removed after the high court in Pretoria set aside a second report in which the court declared that Mkhwebane’s report into the Vrede dairy farm project was unconstitutional.
The first judgment in which her competency was brought into question was when the high court reviewed and set aside her report on the apartheid-era bailout the Reserve Bank gave to Bankorp, which today is part of Absa.
Steenhuisen said on Friday the request to institute the removal proceedings against Mkhwebane must be one of the first items on the agenda.
The ANC, given its majority in the committees, has the power to either protect or hold to account any person that comes before them.