Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema has been relieved of all parliamentary committee work to allow enough space for him to work with the party’s structures across the country in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
Malema was a member of the portfolio committees on justice‚ mineral resources and international relations‚ but the EFF has terminated his membership of those oversight committees.
When he attended committees‚ he was generally well prepared and concise in his questioning. He also proved to be an incisive questioner when attending the ad hoc committees on the presidential residence upgrade at Nkandla‚ and the appointment of the new public protector.
He also serves on the judicial services commission‚ which appoints and disciplines judges. He raised eyebrows in April for the way he grilled judge Jerome Mnguni of the KwaZulu-Natal high court about the judge’s friendship with businessman Don Mkhwanazi.
Although he was diligent about attendance of parliamentary committees when first elected an MP in 2014‚ his attendance lagged in the run-up to last month’s local government’s elections‚ when he was on the campaign and fundraising trails most of the time.
EFF spokesman Fana Mokoena said Malema’s new role was in line with several changes made by the party leadership to its parliamentary representation for various reasons.
“Mr Malema will mainly be deployed on a stringent programme to build the EFF everywhere in the country. The secretary general‚ Godrich Gardee‚ will not be in parliament that often either‚ because he has to be mainly office-bound in an organisational capacity‚” said Mokoena.
Malema and Gardee would from now be expected to only come to parliament to attend key policy debates such as the state of the nation address‚ the national budget and that of the Presidency as well as Presidential question and answer sessions.
Party sources also said this would free up Malema and give him more time to be hands on in the management of the EFF‚ which now has more than 800 new councillors‚ and has been experiencing some growing pains.
EFF members in KwaZulu-Natal last week rebelled against the national leadership for supporting Democratic Alliance candidates and after half the salaries of councillors were docked as payment for party levies.
The EFF has also made some changes to its parliamentary caucus.
MPs Asanda Matshobeni and Pumza Ntobongwana have been redeployed to serve in municipalities and have been replaced by Mokoena and Leigh-Ann Mathys‚ who were both transferred from the National Council of Provinces.
Mathys was recently elected as the EFF’s treasurer-general‚ replacing former MP Magdalene Moonsamy‚ who is pursuing a legal career.
“Both of us are now on the central command team of the EFF. The party therefore felt it was necessary to deploy us to the mainstream of parliamentary politics‚ which is the National Assembly‚” explained Mokoena.
The EFF parliamentary caucus is already without the services of the party’s national spokesman‚ Mbuyiseni Ndlozi‚ who is on study leave until November 1 to work on his doctorate.
– Meanwhile‚ former Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele has returned to the African National Congress back-benches in parliament after being replaced by former deputy minister Mzwandile Masina.
The status of controversial MP Peace Mabe remains in a quandary. This after she was sworn-in as an ANC councillor in Mogale City without first stepping down as an MP and this effectively meant she was no longer eligible to serve in parliament. But when she was defeated by the DA as the ANC Mayoral candidate‚ Mabe packed her bags and returned to parliament only to find out there was now uncertainty around her status.
“I am not sure what Ms Mabe’s position is. We are taking legal advice on it‚” said ANC caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.
The DA also has four parliamentary vacancies. Three MPs — Nqaba Bhanga‚ Annette Lovemore and Andrew Whitfield — were redeployed to the mayoral committee of the Nelson Mandela Bay metro‚ and the DA leader in the NCOP‚ Elza van Lingen‚ was elected mayor of the Kouga municipality in Humansdorp‚ Eastern Cape.
In a subsequent caucus election‚ Cathy Labuschagne of the Western Cape was elected DA leader in the NCOP in Van Lingen’s place.
– TMG Digital/Parliamentary Bureau