'Where is that corrupt bastard?' - Molefe receives frosty welcome from opposition MPs

24 February 2017 - 08:19 By BABALO NDENZE

"Where is that corrupt bastard?" That's how newly appointed MP Brian Molefe was received by opposition MPs as he made his first appearance in the National Assembly yesterday as a backbencher.

He was seated towards the rear of the chamber and smiled as Speaker Baleka Mbete announced that he had been duly sworn in.

Mbete said the vacancy in the National Assembly was due to the resignation of Abram Mudau.

But, according to City Press, Mudau was ordered to resign to make way for Molefe.

The former MP has denied this, saying he resigned for personal reasons.

"I resigned in November because of a broken leg and arm, which put me in and out of hospital - that was when I told the ANC of my resignation," he told Destiny magazine.

Molefe filled the vacancy with effect from February 14.

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"The honourable member was sworn in in the Speaker's office today. I would like to welcome the honourable member," said Mbete.

Opposition MPs booed as Mbete made the announcement.

"Where is that corrupt bastard?" asked the EFF's Moses Mbatha, who was then called to order by an ANC MP. Mbete asked Mbatha to withdraw his remark, but he refused.

"I will recognise your voice in the Hansard recording," Mbete promised.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu asked Mbete "since when" does parliament's communication department make announcements on behalf of political parties.

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He was referring to a press release by parliament announcing Molefe's appointment.

"We will not be abused by the Guptas," said Shivambu.

COPE MP Deidre Carter also made jibes about Molefe.

"True north changed direction in this House because my immorality compass is [pointing] direct to the Honourable Molefe," said Carter.

A few hours earlier, Molefe had received a warm welcome from the ANC caucus at its weekly meeting.

DA finance spokesman David Maynier said the fact that the "disgraced" former Eskom group chief executive was sworn in as an MP was a "major escalation in the civil war within the ruling party and the battle for control of the Treasury being driven by President Jacob Zuma.

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"We cannot be sure but it will presumably not be long before Brian Molefe is appointed to the finance committee to serve time before being appointed deputy minister of finance with a view to controlling the R1.8-trillion managed by the Public Investment Corporation," said Maynier.

Molefe left Eskom under a cloud in November after damning findings about him in the public protector's State of Capture report.

The report, which looked at allegations of state capture involving the Gupta brothers - Atul, Ajay and Rajesh - who are close friends of Zuma, highlighted Molefe's relationships with the family, which he is said to have visited repeatedly at their Saxonwold home.

Molefe, who cried over the allegations during a press conference shortly after the report was released, famously denied visiting the Guptas, saying he could have been going to a shebeen in the neighbourhood.

Molefe is said to be headed to the finance portfolio committee, a member of which, Makhosi Khoza, has been redeployed to the public service and administration committee. Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu used social media site Instagram to express her delight at Molefe's swearing-in, saying "change must happen".

The Industrial Development Corporation has announced Molefe's resignation from its board.