GODI’S GOOD IN­TEN­TIONS

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

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.”

PHOTO: MOUTON VAN ZYL

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

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