ANC MP Zukiswa Ncitha has stepped aside — but not quite
It has been business as usual for one of the ANC’s two MPs affected by the party’s step-aside resolution.
Zukiswa Ncitha, a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegate from the Eastern Cape who “stepped aside” in March, has continued with her parliamentary duties, including chairing committee meetings and participating in plenary sessions.
This goes against the conditions of the “stepping aside” resolution published by the party after its national executive committee (NEC) decided to enforce the rule.
The ANC said its public representatives who have stepped aside are barred from occupying any executive office or position of responsibility in the legislative body to which they belong.
On May 12, Ncitha participated in a question-and-answer session featuring economic cluster ministers. She posed a question about solar geysers to mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, who is also the ANC’s national chairperson.
On May 28, she attended and posed questions during a meeting of the select committee on water and sanitation and human settlements, which was briefed about the department of human settlements’ 2021/22 annual performance plan.
Last Wednesday, she chaired a meeting of the select committee on petitions and executive undertakings.
Her name appeared on the list of speakers for a debate on the human settlements budget vote on Friday. It was later withdrawn.
Ncitha did not respond to requests for comment after promising to do so.
ANC spokesperson in the Eastern Cape, Loyiso Magqashela, confirmed that as per the conditions of stepping aside, Ncitha is expected to attend meetings of the NCOP but not to participate in the proceedings or chair its meetings.
“You can only participate internally [in the party structures] but you cannot represent the organisation anywhere. You just attend meetings,” he said, explaining Ncitha’s attendance at last weekend’s extended provincial executive committee meeting addressed by former president Thabo Mbeki.
“When it comes to issues of you being a deployee, if you are chairperson of a committee, as the case is with Ms Ncitha, you step aside from that position. You become an ordinary member until your matter has been reviewed,” said Magqashela.
Calls to NCOP chief whip Seiso Mohai went unanswered after he failed to respond to written questions.
As chief whip of the council, Mohai is responsible for drawing up the list of speakers for all NCOP sittings. He does this in consultation with provincial and party whips.
The provincial ANC announced in March that Ncitha — who is indicted in the R10m Nelson Mandela memorial scandal case — requested to be recused from the structures of the ANC owing to her indictment. The party accepted this as a voluntary act of stepping aside, it said at the time.
Ncitha is former Buffalo City municipality executive mayor and one of the 12 people accused in the scandal.
Bongani Bongo, the other MP affected by the resolution, was suspended from the party after failing to voluntarily step aside. While he regularly attends sittings of the National Assembly, he has not actively participated nor has he chaired meetings of the home affairs committee to which he was elected to chair in 2019.