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DA: Statement by Athol Trollip, Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader, on the ANC’s denial of the existence of the Presidential Portfolio Committee (22/07/2010)

22nd July 2010

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After DA condemns multiparty task team disbanding, ANC falsely denies it ever existed
DA in possession of emails which unequivocally contradict ANC's claims
DA will be urgently raising the ruling party's conduct with the Speaker and Chairman of Committees





In response to my statement yesterday regarding the ANC's decision to unilaterally disband the multiparty task team created to investigate the establishment of a Presidential Portfolio Committee, the ANC has now apparently come to the remarkable conclusion that no such task team ever existed in the first place.

The claim, made by Moloto Mothapo, spokesman from the Office of the ANC Chief Whip, Matole Motshekga, that no task team had ever been created is not only untrue, but is also a clear attempt by the ANC to negate the steps that were originally taken to investigate the viability of the DA's proposal.

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But Mr. Mothapo is simply speaking nonsense.

To take but one example, the DA is in possession of two emails, sent by Procedural Officer of House Plenaries, John Manyange, which confirm that a meeting of the "multiparty task team" was convened for Thursday 3 June 2010, and subsequently "postponed indefinitely" without explanation. The text of these two emails follows below.

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These emails not only disprove the ANC's claim about the task team's non-existence. The ANC's dithering about whether or not the meeting of the task team would go ahead at the beginning of June also indicate that tensions between the ANC members who were in support of the proposal, and those who wished to reign in any attempts to boost parliament's ability conduct effective oversight, have been simmering since the end of the second term.

The existence of the Task Team is public knowledge. No-one has denied it up until now. Discussions concerning its business have been recorded in the minutes of numerous meetings of the Chief Whips Forum. The minutes from a meeting held on 12 May -at which the ANC's Chief Whip was present- state, under the heading of "Establishment of Task Team on oversight over the Presidency", that "Mr Bapela had indicated that the task team would hold a meeting on Wednesday, 19 May".

In addition, ANC representatives have publically referred to this supposedly phantom Task Team. In an article in the Sunday Times (9 May 2010), Chairperson of Committees and ANC representative Obed Bapela stated that: "In about a month from now parliament's joint rules committee and national assembly speaker Max Sisulu will receive firm proposals from the recently established task team about what form a new parliamentary structure, designed to oversee performance of these ministries in the presidency, should take."

Yesterday's announcement that the ANC had unilaterally disbanded the multiparty task team confirms that the ANC has been successful in silencing those in its ranks who have been vocal in their desire to see oversight of the executive strengthened.

There is no legitimate reason why the ANC should not wholeheartedly embrace the establishment of a committee to conduct oversight of the Presidency. In an administration which has been big on talk about improving government performance and accountability, but small on substance, this could have been the catalyst for much-needed change in the ANC's approach to responsible governance. Its handling of this matter speaks volumes about the ruling party's attitude towards accountability, democratic mechanisms and the role of parliament.

I will be raising the ANC's most recent claims with the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees as a matter of urgency.

 

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