Home South African Supra Mahumapelo breaks ranks on ANC’s support for Public Protector inquiry

Supra Mahumapelo breaks ranks on ANC’s support for Public Protector inquiry

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Supra has vowed to defy chief whip Pemmy Majodina’s decision to back DA in inquiry into Public Protector’s fitness to hold office

ANC MP Supra Mahumapelo. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/African News Agency/ANA

Vows to defy chief whip Pemmy Majodina’s decision to back DA in inquiry into Public Protector’s fitness to hold office

Pretoria – Former North West premier and ANC MP Supra Mahumapelo has broken ranks with his party caucus, vowing to defy chief whip Pemmy Majodina’s decision to back a parliamentary motion to institute an inquiry into Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

Mahumapelo’s refusal to toe the line of the party’s caucus is contained in a letter he sent to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule yesterday.

In the letter, which the Pretoria News has seen, the former North West ANC chairperson categorically stated that he would not “vote for the DA motion coming in the form of a panel report for the removal of the public protector unless the ANC has changed its ideological posture towards parties such as the DA”.

The report was assembled by a panel of experts led by retired Constitutional Court Justice Bess Nkabinde, working together with advocates Dumisa Ntsebeza SC and Johan de Waal SC. They found that Mkhwebane had a case to answer.

Mahumapelo told the Pretoria News yesterday that his position was “a matter of principle” that the ANC should not vote with the opposition party.

This was despite Majodina’s statement on Saturday that the party caucus has discussed the matter at length and decided to support the process.

Mahumapelo said: “We can’t vote with the DA and I don’t want to get into the merit and demerit of the whole thing because the chief whip has issued a statement that we must not talk to the media.”

He said today’s motion to be tabled during a parliamentary sitting “remains a DA motion” because it was brought up by its chief whip, Natasha Mazzone.

In the letter, Mahumapelo also mentioned that during a caucus meeting hosted on March 11, Majodina said that “at this stage, the ANC does not have a position on the matter, but that we must avoid possible legal challenge by the DA to the Speaker of Parliament by not blocking the process that will lead to the establishment of a special Section 194 committee”.

Attempts to reach out to Majodina yesterday drew a blank as her phone rang unanswered.

Contacted for comment, Magashule confirmed receipt of the letter, but said it had not been discussed by the party leadership.

“We have not yet dealt with that matter of the letter because we had other meetings this morning (yesterday),” he said.

He however said the leadership would figure out what to do with the issues raised in the letter, hopefully before the sitting took place at 2pm.

Mahumapelo said it beat him why the ANC had so far failed to take a clear stance on the motion, adding the party “has never been found wanting in Parliament”.

“If you remember the motions against (former) president Jacob Zuma, those motions will come and when they say ‘no confidence’ the ANC will say ‘a motion of confidence’. That happened eight times or nine times in Parliament,” he said.

He challenged those within the ANC to come out and pronounce their position if they “don’t want the public protector” and desist from “hiding behind” the DA motion.

He said the caucus has not yet reached a stage to deal with “the merits and demerits” of the matter but was faced with deciding “how must we support the motion of the opposition in the name of the DA”.

Asked about what was wrong with the motion, he said: “The most fundamental wrong thing about it is that it is from the DA.”

He said the DA was hell-bent on removing the ANC from power and would use the passing of the motion as a bait to woo voters during the upcoming local government elections.

“In the local government campaign they will be saying to the voters that they must vote for the DA because it has managed through Parliament to even outmanoeuvre the ANC which is the majority in Parliament,” Mahumapelo said.

He warned the ANC against “falling for the DA’s motions”, which sounded “rational and convincing”, saying that could put the party into a position whereby it has to “forever be dictated upon” by the opposition.

In the letter, Mahumapelo said: “I thought I needed to bring this to the attention of the leadership because tomorrow, one might be accused of not being disciplined.”

The DA tabled a motion for Mkhwebane’s impeachment in February, saying she was an appointee of former president Jacob Zuma and was “hired to protect state looters” – allegations she rejected as politically motivated.

This was after Parliament passed new rules pertaining to the removal of the heads of Chapter 9 institutions.

In a statement released last week, DA leader John Steenhuisen reiterated that Mkhwebane should be shown the door.

“It is now widely recognised that Busisiwe Mkhwebane is the very opposite of a public protector. She is a Zuma state capture appointee, hired to protect state looters from the public who naturally seek accountability for corruption and state capture. Of course, the Public Protector’s role should be to protect the public from a corrupt state, not the other way around,” said Steenhuissen.

However, some parties represented in parliament including the EFF and African Transformation Movement (ATM) have thrown their weight behind Mkhwebane, saying they won’t support a motion to remove her from office.

This was after Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the panel found substantial information that constitutes prima facie evidence of incompetence and misconduct against the public protector.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu said on twitter that Mkhwebane was going nowhere, while party MP Mbuyeseni Ndlozi told the media the same thing.

“We should be taking into consideration any criticism from the public, including the

PP (Public Protector), about the removal of people heading Chapter 9 institutions. To that extent, we don’t think there is anything wrong she is doing. I am saying the trap we are avoiding is the one that this entire process is drawing attention to – the removal of the PP (Public Protector) and we are opposed to that,” Ndlozi reportedly said.

ATM president Vuyo Zungula and party spokesperson Zama Ntshona previously also said the party won’t support the motion because Mkhwebane was a victim of political witch-hunt.

“She was the first public guardian to achieve a clean audit in 25 years and is being persecuted rather than celebrated. This frivolous DA-sponsored move is dishonest.

The Democratic Alliance and its collaborators provide governance and support for the poor with all objective indicators,“ Ntshona said.

Pretoria News