UPDATE | Mantashe tells ANC caucus to toe the line ahead of historic Mkhwebane vote
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe instructed ANC MPs to toe the line and vote in support of an inquiry into public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
Caucus sources told TimesLIVE Mantashe wouldn’t entertain any debate on the matter and refused to take MPs’ questions during a caucus meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
Mantashe apparently told the meeting he was issuing the instruction on behalf of the party’s top six officials, the sources said.
MPs have previously indicated the top six officials, who include party president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule, would come up with the ANC’s position on the Mkhwebane matter as the ANC had no resolution on her future.
Mantashe declined to comment when contacted on Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier, TimesLIVE reported that Mantashe would address a special meeting of the party’s caucus an hour before Tuesday’s parliamentary session to decide whether to institute an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.
If the National Assembly votes to institute the inquiry, it would be the first time such an inquiry is held against a head of a Chapter 9 institution.
Party insiders claim the party’s top six leaders decided on Monday they will listen to the caucus, and if there is a strong view against proceeding with the matter, the item may be postponed.
Two party insiders told TimesLIVE deputy president David Mabuza has been tasked to listen to the mood of the special caucus.
A few MPs who spoke to TimesLIVE said they were concerned about the limited time the party has set aside to deal with the matter.
The special caucus meeting has been called as more MPs indicated they will defy any instruction to vote in support of the establishment of an inquiry into Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office, as recommended by an independent panel.
The president of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association, Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also an ANC MP, became the latest MP to indicate he would not participate in the vote to institute an inquiry.
Maphatsoe called on Magashule to sanction any ANC MP who participates in the DA-sponsored vote, which he said would be in contravention of the ANC constitution.
In a letter to Magashule, Maphatsoe accused ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina of publishing a biased and one-sided version of the discussion that took place in the party’s caucus meeting last Thursday.
“To issue a media statement supporting a vote in order to decide to endorse or reject the report of the independent panel is disingenuous and does not reflect the scope of the discussion that took place in the caucus,” said Maphatsoe.
“In having done so, the chief whip complicated and compromised a very simple and straightforward matter,” he said.
Maphatsoe said to participate in a vote about the acceptance or rejection of the report of the independent panel is to participate in a process that is unfolding in support of the DA’s clearly stated intention to remove the public protector from office.
“Thus, for any ANC member of parliament to vote with the DA is contrary to rule 25.17.13 of the ANC constitution, which describes, with regards to the duties of members, office bearers and representatives, that an act of misconduct is: ‘Joining or supporting a political organisation, other than an organisation in alliance with the ANC, in a manner contrary to the aims, objectives and policy of the ANC’.
“There is absolutely no grey area here. Any ANC MP who participates in this vote contravenes our ANC constitution.
“Therefore, as a disciplined member of the ANC, I will not be participating in today’s vote,” he said.
Maphatsoe “demanded” Magashule’s office and the ANC in general protect him from any form of intimidation and/or sanction for having taken what he called a “principled decision”.
“I furthermore urge the secretary-general to take disciplinary action against any ANC MPS who do participate in this DA-sponsored vote today.”
Maphatsoe said he hoped Magashule would exert the authority vested in him to protect the revolutionary integrity of the ANC, and the provisions of its constitution, to which every member of the ANC, without fail, is duty bound to adhere.