Axe finally falls on Bongani Bongo as ANC shakes up parliamentary caucus
Bongo’s removal is among several changes ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina announced on Thursday
Controversial ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who is facing corruption and fraud charges, has been removed as chairperson of parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee.
Bongo was removed from his powerful position months after he was suspended from the parliamentary position by the ANC leadership during strict implementation of its “step-aside” rule.
The party suspended Bongo in May after he refused to voluntarily step aside while facing fraud allegations, as per party guidelines.
However, he will remain an ordinary MP, serving on the home affairs committee.
According to several high-placed sources, Bongo’s removal was among changes announced by ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina at the party’s caucus meeting on Thursday.
However, ANC insiders have revealed that, in the main, portfolio committee chairpersons aligned with suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule have been moved around and, with the exception of one, replaced by people sympathetic to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s dominant faction.
Among them are those whose election was opposed by opposition parties and criticised by civil society, who objected because they were implicated at the state capture commission.
Despite initial objection to her election in July 2019, Faith Muthambi, who has been leading the cooperative governance and traditional affairs committee, is credited for its tough approach towards floundering municipalities.
She has swapped roles with former Eastern Cape MEC Fikile Xasa, who will now chair her committee, according to sources. Xasa was the chairperson of the environment, forestry and fisheries oversight committee.
The outspoken Tandi Mahambehlala, who led her committee’s criticism of international relations and cooperation minister Naledi Pandor’s handling of the suspension of department of international relations and cooperation (Dirco) director-general Kgabo Mahoai on Wednesday, has been swapped with former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who has chaired the tourism portfolio committee since June 2019.
The Dirco committee, under Mahambehlala, has been tough on Pandor, especially over her perceived inaction against officials implicated in the controversial purchase of a dilapidated New York building for R118m.
MPs have been critical of Pandor for placing Mahoai on precautionary suspension, saying she was using him as a scapegoat in the matter. They have also clashed with the minister for not always explaining her decisions on the matter.
“You must spare yourself from self-importance — your utterances, I find them very arrogant,” Mahambehlala told Pandor during a heated meeting of the committee in February.
Former #FeesMustFall leader Nompendulo Mkhatshwa is said to be the new chairperson of the committee overseeing higher education. This follows the promotion of the committee’s chairperson, Philly Mapulane, to Ramaphosa’s executive.
Mapulane was appointed deputy minister of communications and digital technologies earlier this month.
In the National Council of Provinces, Zolani Mkiva, an ANC delegate from the Eastern Cape, will replace former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, who stepped aside earlier this year while facing fraud charges in the so-called Mandela funeral scandal.
Majodina confirmed in a statement late on Thursday that the changes were made to the parliamentary caucus in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent cabinet reshuffle.
“In its totality, the ANC parliamentary caucus list of chairpersons and whips is tilted towards women representation and reflects true commitment to the principle of non-sexism,” the statement read.
It confirmed the following changes:
- Mosa Chabane replaces Bongani Bongo on the home affairs committee;
- Kenny Jacobs replaces Sibongiseni Dhlomo on the health committee, with the latter becoming deputy health minister in the reshuffle;
- at higher education, science and innovation, Nompendulo Mkhatshwa replaces Mohlopi Mapulane;
- Nonkosi Mvana replaces Mondli Gungubele on the social development committee;
- on the petitions select committee, Zolani Mkiva replaces Zukiswa Ncitha;
- Fikile Xasa replaces Faith Muthambi on the Cogta committee, with the two swapping places as Muthambi takes over from Xasa on the forestry, fisheries and environment committee; and
- at international relations and co-operation, Supra Mahumapelo replaces Thandi Mahambehlala. The two swapped places, with Mahambehlala replacing Mahumapelo on the tourism committee.
In his reshuffle, Ramaphosa split the human settlements, water and sanitation ministry into two, with this also affecting the structure of the parliamentary committees.
Rosina Semenya was subsequently named as the new human settlements committee chair, and Robert Mashego the new water and sanitation committee chair.