Jack­son bat­tles ROGUE MPS

ANC MPs who have asked for a broader state cap­ture probe have stood their ground against their chief whip

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

ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu had his hands full this week deal­ing with ab­sent ANC MPs in the Na­tional As­sem­bly as well as de­fi­ant MPs who chal­lenged his author­ity to hold them ac­count­able. The frac­tures are in­dica­tive of deep­en­ing di­vi­sions in the ANC par­lia­men­tary cau­cus amid broader fac­tions be­com­ing more ap­par­ent in the party in the run-up to the na­tional elec­tive con­fer­ence in De­cem­ber.

The ten­sions played out in this week’s cau­cus meet­ing where a group of MPs who had re­quested that Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane in­clude Na­tional Trea­sury, the SA Re­serve Bank and the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre in her state cap­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­fended their de­ci­sion to ap­proach the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor with­out in­form­ing their bosses.

Ac­cord­ing to three sources who at­tended Thurs­day’s heated cau­cus meet­ing, Mthembu spoke out against the MPs who made the re­quest, say­ing this was a sign of ill-dis­ci­pline. He al­legedly asked them to explain their ac­tions to the cau­cus.

The MPs, led by Loy­iso Mpuml­wana, stood their ground and said they had not vi­o­lated ANC pol­icy by go­ing to the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor.

They ac­cused Mthembu of be­ing guilty of the same for al­legedly ex­press­ing his views as if they were the views of the cau­cus he leads. Ac­cord­ing to two of the sources, Mpuml­wana charged: “Wena [You] Jack­son, when you go out and say ‘it’s the tra­di­tion of the ANC for the deputy pres­i­dent to be­come the pres­i­dent’, who are you rep­re­sent­ing … which cau­cus took that po­si­tion?”

Mthembu’s back­ers al­legedly claimed that by pre­sent­ing a view that was not sanc­tioned by the cau­cus, the other group was in­ten­tion­ally un­der­min­ing the chief whip and try­ing to por­tray him as some­one who was not able to man­age the cau­cus.

They view the re­quest for the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor to in­ves­ti­gate Trea­sury as a de­flec­tion in an at­tempt to min­imise the im­pact of the Gup­tas’ al­leged role in state cap­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Mpuml­wana ex­plained that they were forced to ap­proach the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor fol­low­ing com­plaints from their con­stituen­cies.

He al­legedly ar­gued that MPs rep­re­sent con­stituen­cies and there­fore could not ig­nore is­sues that were raised at that level.

Mpuml­wana ex­pressed the same sen­ti­ments to City Press two weeks ago when he said: “MPs have a duty to re­spond to the is­sues of their con­stituen­cies. We can’t take ev­ery­thing to the cau­cus.”

Then, Mpuml­wana had claimed that more than 90 MPs were sig­na­to­ries to the let­ter re­quest­ing the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor to ex­pand her state cap­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tion and added that the list was grow­ing every day.

Mthembu had, in a state­ment is­sued on June 1, dis­tanced the ANC cau­cus from the group’s ac­tions, say­ing the MPs acted in their in­di­vid­ual ca­pac­i­ties and not as rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the ANC par­lia­men­tary cau­cus and that what­ever they sub­mit­ted to the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor was their own view.

He later in­di­cated to City Press that the MPs would have to explain them­selves to the party cau­cus and that the cau­cus would take a de­ci­sion on the way for­ward. But all three sources claimed that there was a stale­mate and no way for­ward had been pro­posed or agreed to.

Mthembu re­fused to com­ment on the lat­est de­vel­op­ments around the mat­ter. He said cau­cus is­sues were not to be spo­ken of in the pub­lic do­main. “I will not deny nor con­firm the is­sues that we dis­cuss in cau­cus,” he said.

Mpuml­wana was not avail­able for com­ment. Sev­eral phone calls and an SMS went unan­swered on Satur­day.

At the same cau­cus meet­ing, Mthembu is said to have an­nounced plans to dis­ci­pline MPs whose ab­sence from the Na­tional As­sem­bly had led to its fail­ure to pass cer­tain laws.

In re­cent weeks, and fol­low­ing walk­outs by op­po­si­tion par­ties, Par­lia­ment has had to post­pone the pass­ing of pro­posed laws due to the lack of a quo­rum.

The Bor­der Man­age­ment Author­ity Bill, for in­stance, was only passed dur­ing a third at­tempt ear­lier this month as on two prior oc­ca­sions there were not enough MPs in the House to meet the re­quired 50% plus one quo­rum to pass a law.

Hours af­ter Thurs­day’s meet­ing, Mthembu asked the Na­tional As­sem­bly to post­pone the ap­proval of the Pro­tected Dis­clo­sures Amend­ment Bill be­cause there were not enough MPs to pass the law.

He told City Press this was be­cause a num­ber of min­is­ters had gone to Knysna with Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma fol­low­ing the dev­as­tat­ing fires there last week.

Mthembu lashed out at op­po­si­tion par­ties for their staged walk­outs and said these were ab­surd and un­pa­tri­otic.

“They must tell us if Par­lia­ment’s ma­jor­ity is now cen­tred around the 249 ANC MPs. They must say so, so that we change ev­ery­thing to cen­tre around the ANC.

“If you are say­ing you won’t as­sist the ANC in pass­ing its laws, say so and then tell us what ex­am­ple are we set­ting for prov­inces and hung mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties where they are in charge,” he said.

A long-serv­ing ANC MP com­pared the ten­sions in the party’s cau­cus to those of 2006 when then chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe claimed the cau­cus was fully be­hind Thabo Mbeki when the for­mer pres­i­dent came un­der at­tack from the SA Com­mu­nist Party and trade union fed­er­a­tion Cosatu for his al­leged “im­pe­rial” pres­i­dency. Goniwe was at­tacked by MPs who agreed with the ANC’s tri­par­tite al­liance part­ners.

The MP, who sym­pa­thises with Mthembu, said even if the other group­ing was pur­su­ing a mat­ter raised by their con­stituen­cies, they should have gone through the chief whip. “What they did af­fects ev­ery­body in cau­cus.”

Mthembu is re­garded as a sym­pa­thiser of ANC deputy pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa and has faced hos­til­ity from Zuma’s sup­port­ers.

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They view the re­quest to the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor as an at­tempt to min­imise the im­pact of the Gup­tas’ al­leged role in state cap­ture

PHOTO: TEBOGO LET­SIE

ALL DECKED OUT Dur­ban Deep Troope en­ter­tain­ing the crowds on Youth Day in Soweto at the Hec­tor Pi­eter­son Mu­seum

CHAL­LENGED ANC chief whip Jack­son Mthembu

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