POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: President to answer questions on the sluggish economy
Parliament’s various portfolio committees are expected to meet and President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to answer questions in the National Assembly this week.
The select committee on security and justice will consider written responses from discredited advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi on whether to restore them to their positions in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
Jiba and Mrwebi, accused of state-capture activity, served as deputy national director of public prosecutions, and special director of public prosecutions respectively.
Ramaphosa axed them from the NPA in April after the Mokgoro commission found them to be neither fit nor proper to hold their respective offices.
The controversial advocates, viewed as key allies of former president and Gupta ally Jacob Zuma, scored a major victory when the Constitutional Court ruled in their favour in June.
This after the Concourt dismissed an application by the General Council of the Bar to have the pair struck off the roll of advocates.
But the justice portfolio committee has said it will confine itself to the Mokgoro report and Ramaphosa’s decision to fire Jiba and Mrwebi when deciding the pair’s fate.
On Wednesday the portfolio committee on mineral resources and energy will hold stakeholder engagement meetings with representatives from the Mineral Council of SA, SA Oil and Gas Alliance, Energy Intensive Users Group and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, among others.
On Thursday Ramaphosa will respond orally to questions in the National Assembly, with ANC MP Judy Hermans expected to quiz the president about the government’s plans to address slow economic growth and the rising unemployment rate.
The economy shrank 3.2% or declined by R56bn in the first quarter of the 2019, while the unemployment rate jumped from 27.6% to 29% in the second quarter.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane will ask the president whether he intends to institute an independent inquiry, to be headed by a retired judge selected by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, to further investigate state-capture allegations involving corruption-accused company Bosasa, now African Global Operations.
Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson donated R500,000 to Ramaphosa’s successful CR17 campaign to become ANC president in December 2017.
The donation has since become a thorn in the side of Ramaphosa. Embattled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled the National Assembly about the donation.
Maimane lodged a complaint with Mkhwebane late in 2018 after Ramaphosa initially told parliament it was a consultancy payment from Bosasa to his son, Andile. Days later, Ramaphosa wrote to then speaker Baleka Mbete and admitted he was wrong, and that the money was actually a donation to his election campaign.
“I, therefore, find President Ramaphosa’s conduct … to be inconsistent with his office as a member of the cabinet and therefore a violation of section 96(1) of the constitution,” Mkhwebane found.
Ramaphosa has taken Mkhwebane’s report, which found that he had violated the executive code of ethics, on urgent judicial review. On Monday August 12 the high court in Pretoria granted Ramaphosa an interim interdict staying the implementation of Mkhwebane’s remedial action against him.
EFF leader Julius Malema is expected to ask Ramaphosa who from the office of the president and the cabinet were involved in fundraising for his ANC presidential campaign. He also wants to know the potential funders Ramaphosa had met at dinners organised by his campaign leaders.
Mkhuleko Hlengwa, the IFP MP and chair of the standing committee on public accounts, wants to know if Ramaphosa intends implementing recommendations of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture.
In the report, which was released in July, the panel, among other things, called for a land donations policy to be set up to allow for private owners to donate land; and that expropriation without compensation may be necessary in some cases.
Panel chair Vuyokazi Mahlati has said the urgency and constitutional imperative of land reform cannot neither be taken lightly nor postponed.
On Friday the portfolio committee on human settlements, water and sanitation will receive a briefing by the ministry on its first-term expenditure report.