Despite five African National Congress (ANC) MPs boycotting a parliamentary meeting, other parliamentarians sitting on the portfolio committee on public service and administration have resolved to subpoena Minister Faith Muthambi after she too was a no-show on Tuesday.
Muthambi, according to committee chairperson Makhosi Khoza, had agreed to give a verbal response to the committee on allegations contained in the Sunday Times that the minister had overstaffed her private office, hired family and friends, and flew an inordinate amount of people down for her budget vote in May.
However, the public service and administration minister, her director-general, several officials and the five ANC MPs decided not to pitch.
Earlier, a letter signed by five ANC MPs, which had been sent to the party’s chief whip, Jackson Mthembu, had been circulated on social media. According to the letter, the MPs – Sizani Dlamini-Dubazana, Madala Ntombela, Mervyn Dirks, Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, and Regima Lesoma – “strongly object to be led by Dr. Makhosi Khoza as the chairperson of the portfolio committee [on public service and administration] and member of the study group”.
The MPs refer to clause 25.5 of the ANC constitution and refer to Khoza’s displaying “conduct unbecoming of a member”.
It is not clear what the MPs are referring to, but Khoza was one of the ANC MPs who refused to abide by a party directive to vote against a motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma. She has been very outspoken about problems besetting the ruling party and has been advocating for leadership change.
Khoza said the five ANC MPs did not provide apologies for their absence, neither did Muthambi.
She said Muthambi, with whom she attended a meeting earlier in the day, had agreed to appear before the portfolio committee on public service and administration and give MPs a verbal report on various allegations in the media that she had appointed friends and family to her personal office, including appointing 27 people – way above the 10 allowed by the ministerial handbook.
Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Mike Waters said Muthambi’s absence was akin to holding Parliament in contempt.
“It’s a dereliction of duty, the fact that she’s promised to come here to table a report verbally…and has simply given us the middle finger,” said Waters.
He suggested Muthambi be subpoenaed to appear before the committee and account, a suggestion which found favour with the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.
“Minister Faith Muthambi is running away to be held to account on the reports of nepotism and also corruption in her department under her instructions,” said Ndlozi.
“There is now also a deliberate plan that some among us MPs who want to collapse this institution from doing its job…”