GODI’S GOOD INTENTIONS
Themba Godi, the sole MP representing the African People’s Convention (APC), is unmoved by claims that he is an ANC lackey who sold out his party to keep a powerful oversight position in Parliament. Instead, he blames the hostile approach of “white parties in Parliament” for his stance. Godi is the chairperson of Parliament’s key watchdog, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), one of the toughest jobs in Parliament and which, by convention, is awarded to a member of the opposition.
He is also the president of the APC, a party he established after quitting the Pan Africanist Congress in 2007.
While opposition parties have, in recent years, banded together in developing strategies to tackle the ANC in Parliament, the APC, through its lone MP Godi, has stood on the side of the governing party.
He told City Press that, despite the ANC’s limitations, the hostile approach of the “white parties in Parliament” was what forced him to stand with the governing party.
“I am a staunchly ideological person,” says Godi.
“I grew up as a political animal, so to speak. I always look at things politically and ideologically.
“I am very clear that, whatever the limitations of the ANC, we are comrades who fought for freedom together.” Like the Pan Africanist Congress and his APC, the ANC’s orientation is to seek to transform and change society in a way that will benefit the majority of South Africa’s people, he says. “I refuse to agree to a narrative that our problems started in 1994, when the ANC came to power … and the fact that white people have never given in to the progressive ideas of the liberation movements, but have banded together like this against majority rule,” says Godi. He believes his criticism of the ANC is different from that of the DA. Godi’s departure from the Pan Africanist Congress followed accusations in that party that he was selling out to the ANC. He explains that, while growing up in the Pan Africanist Congress, he lived in an environment where they treated the ANC as sellouts. It was his arrival in Parliament in February 2004 that changed his view. “I was shocked to see the attitude of these white parties.
“That is why I went to the Pan Africanist Congress and said: ‘Comrades, if we think the ANC is the enemy, we are wasting time. The Boers there are opposing even the little that the ANC is doing.’”
Godi says he advised the Pan Africanist Congress that it might be strategic to identify areas where they could hold together with the ANC and push against “these people”.
But this became the root cause of his problems and led to his departure from the party, as his comrades believed he was selling out.
Godi explains that, while he does not agree with the ANC ideologically, he does not believe that it should be treated as the enemy.
“When I am there and the DA makes noise with the Economic Freedom Fighters, I am just like … it is water off a duck’s back because I am so ideological; I look at these minions [as being] shallow and weak.”
Godi, who is the longest-serving chairperson of a Parliament oversight committee – he has been Scopa chairperson since 2005 – tells City Press that he has observed some improvements in how government officials report on state finances.
As a result, many departments are getting unqualified audits with findings from the Auditor-General’s reports – meaning that the ability of officials to disclose information as required has improved, but the actual financial management and controls are not where they are supposed to be.
Godi says Scopa is also concerned about the high turnover of senior government officials, citing instability at the top as being one of the major problems of government.
He mentions, as an example, the department of military veterans, which has had three directors-general over the past year. Scopa was scathing about the performance of that department last month, issuing a statement to the effect that the department was failing in its mandate.
“I talk to you, the director-general, today, and you make commitments, you have a plan – and then, six months later, you are removed and somebody new comes in. You are therefore not moving in a linear fashion,” says Godi.
“The lack of stability at the top is, for me, the primary cause of us not being where we should be.
“You do not have a person who says ‘I have this plan’, implements it and then you hold that person accountable over a period of time. You have this continuous disruption, so it creates problems and frustrations for us in oversight.”
LONE VOICE Themba Godi left the Pan Africanist Congress during the 2007 floor-crossing period to form the APC and is today its sole parliamentary representative. He is also the longest-serving chairperson of a Parliament oversight committee