Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS
Mosebenzi Zwane. Picture: GCIS

Former ministers accused of corruption and state capture Mosebenzi Zwane and Faith Muthambi are among those nominated to head portfolio committees in parliament. 

The ANC on Wednesday released its list of nominees, which was littered with MPs tainted by allegations of wrongdoing. The presence of controversial figures linked with some of the excesses of the Jacob Zuma presidency may undermine President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “new dawn” narrative, as the committees provide an integral oversight role for government activities, policies and spending priorities.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina said MPs who had allegations against them had appeared before the party’s integrity commission and had been cleared.

The party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, said the law allowed them to be MPs because they had not been found guilty by the courts.

Zwane, a controversial Zuma-era mineral resources minister, was nominated as chair of the portfolio committee on transport.

Under his leadership, regulatory uncertainty and lack of confidence in the mining industry, one of the country’s key economic sectors, worsened, especially after the suspension of the third version of the Mining Charter, which he gazetted in 2017. Zwane is regarded as a Gupta stooge and has been fingered in the Vrede dairy farm financial scandal in the Free State.

Muthambi has been nominated as chair of the co-operative governance & traditional affairs committee, and former state security minister Bongani Bongo as home affairs committee chair.

Muthambi and Zwane have been implicated at the state capture commission of inquiry, while Bongo is accused of trying to bribe the evidence leader in parliament’s inquiry into Eskom.

Bongo has appeared before parliament’s ethics committee. Its findings on him have still not been released. Majodina said the ANC would meet with the speaker of parliament and ask that its findings be released.

Last week the Sunday Times reported that there was an attempt by Magashule to select the nominees for committees without permission from the party’s leadership. He was also accused of selecting only those sympathetic to him.

However, on Wednesday Magashule said there was no confusion and that there was no “SG list”. He said the list of nominees was the result of the collective decisions of ANC officials.

He said nominations were postponed last week because the ANC needed to consult its alliance partners.

It is understood that the original list of nominees was changed during the meeting with the alliance secretariat. Although people were not necessarily removed from the list, they were shifted to other portfolios. 

Mojadina denied that the list of nominees for committees was based on a balancing of factional lines in the party.

“When we approach deployment we don’t approach it in a factional manner … we deploy them based on the experience, capacity, new people that have just come in, women, youth … it is not based on factional groupings. We did not consider that,” she said.

Regarding the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), the ANC is still in consultations with an opposition party.

The position of Scopa chair has traditionally been given to an opposition party member. In the fifth administration, Themba Godi of the African People’s Convention was appointed chair. His party did not garner enough votes in the May 8 election to make it back to parliament.

The ANC would not say which opposition party it was in consultation with, but a list of its nominees for the committees given to journalists showed that it wanted to give the position to the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Earlier this month, the DA said it expected the ANC to offer it the position of Scopa chair.

The ANC wants former chief whip Mathole Motshekga to chair the ad hoc committee to amend section 25 of the constitution, to allow for land expropriation without compensation, and the joint constitutional review committee.

Zuma-era transport minister Joe Maswanganyi has been nominated as the finance committee chair.  

The committee on public enterprises will be chaired by Khaya Magaxa, the acting chair of the ANC in the Western Cape.

Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who was forced to resign after violent protests in the province, has been nominated as chair of the portfolio committee on tourism.

Former energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been nominated as police committee chair, former deputy finance minister Sifiso Buthelezi as chair of appropriations and another former deputy finance minister, Mondli Gungubele, as chair of the social development committee.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za