DA wants Thandi Modise to explain failure to establish Covid-19 graft committee

The DA wants answers from Speaker Thandi Modise.
The DA wants answers from Speaker Thandi Modise.
Image: Sunday Times

The DA wants National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise to explain her failure to establish a parliamentary committee to probe Covid-19 procurement corruption.

In March, the party asked Modise to establish an ad hoc committee to ensure continuous oversight over the national executive authority and organs of state to ensure that civil liberties were protected at all times during the lockdown.

In his letter, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen proposed that the committee would be to ensure that the provisions of all applicable legislation and constitutional provisions were upheld and that adequate oversight exists over the exercise of executive functions by the national executive authority and organs of state during the crisis.

Deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli shot down the DA's request saying it was “so broad and of such a nature that it would not be feasible to expect a single ad hoc committee to perform”.

The EFF followed up with its own letter in July asking Modise to establish an ad hoc committee to specifically investigate corruption related to Covid-19 procurement.

EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu asked Modise to serve before the programming committee an EFF motion calling for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged corruption committed in Covid-19 procurement of protective personal equipment, food parcels and other Covid-19 related expenses.

On Monday, DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone said she would be writing to Modise asking her to “level up” with South Africans and provide reasons why she has failed to establish a committee to look into procurement corruption that took place during the pandemic.

City Press reported on Sunday that the ANC caucus in parliament was working on a plan to counter a “negative narrative” after the damning findings by the auditor-general on the expenditure of Covid-19 relief funds.

The newspaper reported that among the ANC caucus' plans would be for Modise to reject the EFF's call for the establishment of a special committee to deal with the misuse of Covid-19 funds.

“That the ANC is prepared to ‘short-circuit’ parliament’s role as an oversight body, is reflective of a party in denial about the cancer of corruption that has become endemic within its ranks,” said Mazzone in her statement.

She said Modise’s continued delay in constituting such a committee placed her at odds with section 55(2) of the constitution which requires that parliament provides mechanisms to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it.

She said the DA hoped that Modise would not repeat the mistake of her predecessor, former speaker, Baleka Mbete, who refused to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate the wrongdoing related to the upgrades at former president Jacob Zuma's Nkandla home.

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