POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: D-Day for Ramaphosa and Mkhwebane
After a long-running battle, the drama between President Cyril Ramaphosa and public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane reaches a climax this week.
On Tuesday judgment will be handed down in the case brought by Ramaphosa for a judicial review of Mkhwebane’s report on the funding of his 2017 ANC presidential election campaign. He applied to the high court in Pretoria to have her report overturned and declared unlawful.
If Mkhwebane loses the case, it will be another devastating blow to her credibility which has been called into question by a series of court judgments that have reflected on her competence. It will also give ammunition to those seeking her removal. A parliamentary process initiated by the DA is already under way.
Arguments in the case were heard by a full bench in the high court in February. In her report, Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa had misled parliament‚ violated the executive ethics code and acted inconsistently with his office in relation to R500‚000 donated in 2017 by the late Bosasa boss Gavin Watson to Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential (CR17) campaign. Mkhwebane also found prima facie evidence of money laundering in the more than R400m donated to the campaign.
The main pillars of Ramaphosa’s defence is that he did not know about the R500,000 donation made to his CR17 campaign, and that Mkhwebane does not have jurisdiction to investigate donations made to a private political campaign.
Meanwhile, another drama will be unfolding in Tshwane, which will be placed under administration at the instigation of Gauteng premier David Makhura, once various processes have been completed, such as getting approval from co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the decision.
DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said the DA planned to approach the courts to contest Makhura’s decision on the grounds that the reasons advanced to justify it were not backed up by facts. For example, the city’s finances were in good shape, he said, and it did not owe money for electricity.
The DA’s legal team is busy preparing the papers but Steenhuisen said it had not yet been decided whether to apply to court by way of an urgent application or through the normal court process.
If Makhura’s decision is approved by the minister, the council will be dissolved and an administrator appointed to run the municipality until elections, which have to take place within 90 days. Makhura justified his decision on the grounds of the “ongoing mismanagement” of the city, its failure to spend conditional grants, its inability to pay creditors and the lack of service delivery.
On Wednesday ministers in the social cluster, including education, health, social development & human settlements, and water & sanitation, will answer questions by MPs in the National Assembly, and it will be Deputy President David Mabuza’s turn on Thursday. Mabuza will be put on the spot by a question from EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, who wants to know who misled Ramaphosa about the state of affairs at Eskom and what accountability there has been in the matter. This refers to Mabuza’s January statement that Ramaphosa had been misled by Eskom, which contrary to his promises had to resort once again to load-shedding early in January because of supply constraints. In December Ramaphosa had told the nation there would be no load-shedding until January 13.
Parliamentary committees will continue with their work. On Tuesday the DA plans to grill the National Lotteries Commission about corruption allegations when it appears before the trade and industry committee.
A joint meeting of the communications and sports, arts and culture committees will be briefed by the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) on its sports broadcast regulations. Icasa is introducing various amendments to open up the pay-TV market and ensure that sporting events of national importance are easily accessible to viewers.
On Wednesday the select committee on public enterprises and communication will be briefed by the department of communication on spectrum policy and the health committee will be briefed by the Competition Commission on the health-care market inquiry report.