POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Pravin Gordhan to come under the spotlight at NEC meeting
The outcome of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting will be the highlight of the week as the future of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan’s hangs in the balance.
The NEC is the party’s highest decision-making body between conferences.
Gordhan, who is facing calls from within and outside the ANC to step down for failing to deal decisively with the Eskom crisis, is due to present a report on state-owned entities (SOEs) at the NEC meeting, with the struggling power utility and airline SAA set to be top of the agenda. The financially crippled state-owned airline went into voluntary business rescue in December.
Eskom, which ratings agencies cite as the biggest risk to SA’s finances, has struggled to keep the lights on recently, ultimately leading to the resignation of chair Jabu Mabuza earlier in January. Subsequently, there have been growing calls for Gordhan to step down, with the EFF among those leading the charge, claiming the minister is at the centre of the “confusion, incompetence, paralysis and the lack of direction suffered by Eskom”.
At the weekend, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe downplayed suggestions that the NEC meeting would be used by factions within the ANC to attack Gordhan and push for his removal.
“The NEC has never sat and discussed individual deployees; we don’t do that. It is the prerogative of the president to appoint members of the national executive,” he said.
The commission of inquiry into state capture is due to continue its work this week. Last week new rules governing the workings of the commission, chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, were gazetted.
Witnesses appearing before the commission could now face legal action should they circumvent questions and obstruct Zondo and other members of the commission. Those who fail to comply with the changes could be subjected to a fine or imprisonment of up to 12 months. These rules come into operation at a time the commission is pushing to have former president Jacob Zuma appear before it to conclude his testimony.
Zuma failed to appear before the commission in November after his legal team said he was too ill. The inquiry signalled that it could use its subpoena powers to compel witnesses to take the stand.
A fresh inquest into the 1982 death in detention of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett is scheduled to begin on Monday. It will be presided over by judge Motsamai Makume in the high court in Johannesburg.
Aggett was a medical doctor and trade unionist who worked mainly in overcrowded hospitals in black townships such as Soweto, Mthatha and Tembisa. While working at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, Aggett became involved in the trade union movement, championing worker rights through his involvement with the Transvaal branch of the African Food and Canning Workers’ Union.
He was detained by the apartheid security police in 1981 at the notorious John Vorster Square (now Johannesburg central police station). He was found dead in unexplained circumstances on February 5 1982.
An inquest held at the time found he had committed suicide and the police were not responsible for his death. The inquest findings were condemned in SA and across the world due to the narrow approach adopted by the magistrate who had excluded critical evidence depicting a pattern of sensory deprivation and torture.