Cape Town - Under fire DA senior member and provincial legislature Speaker Masizole Mnqasela has until Friday to review the serious charges that could result in a devastating blow for the seasoned local politician.
He was given 24 hours by his party to provide a written representation to the Provincial executive committee (PEC) chairperson Jaco Londt detailing why he should not be suspended pending the finalisation of the investigation and/or institution of a disciplinary hearing.
The Hawks have confirmed they are investigating fraud as DA caucus leader and Premier Alan Winde advised Mnqasela to step down amid the investigation.
Mnqasela refused saying that would mean admitting guilt and he was not a thief.
Last week the DA in the province handed over documents to the Hawks for investigation after two whistle-blowers provided Winde with submissions relating to subsistence, travel and entertainment allowance claims linked to Mnqasela.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo on Thursday said that a case of fraud was being investigated.
“Masizole has asked for more information. That was agreed to. He now must provide reasons why he shouldn’t be suspended. The deadline is tomorrow (Friday) evening,” Londt.
Asked what more information Mnqasela required, Londt said he would not divulge details of an internal process.
“He has received his letter and will get additional information he requested.”
DA spokesperson Richard Newton said:“If he is suspended it will be from party activities. Important to note that it is not from the party but from party activities and it does not impact on his role as speaker.”
In response to questions about a verbal spat between Mnqasela and his deputy Beverley Schäfer during a legislature multi-party leadership forum that was called by the ANC this week, Newton said the “conflating of two separate issues has led to the allegations of factions and ‘exchanges of words’ is hardly evidence of factional battles”.
DA Andricus Van der Westhuizen had to chair almost the entire fourth sitting of the legislature on Thursday.
Mnqasela returned to chair the meeting a few minutes before it ended.
ANC MPL Khalid Sayed has accused Winde of consistently undermining the legislature.
“This undermining of the House started with the suspension of Bonginkosi Madikizela when details of that move were denied to this House. The refusal of the premier to release the Williams report into allegations of former MEC Fritz to members of this House was another example of how he has undermined the legislature, a body constitutionally bound to hold him and his executive to account.”
He says the work of the legislature has been hampered because Winde and his executive refuse to account there.
“We cannot be led in this House by a speaker and deputy speaker who both have clouds hanging over their heads and who openly and clearly cannot work together. The ANC notes and is not surprised that it is a black person who is dealt with by the DA while whites are protected. Bongikhosi Madikizela is punished and JP Smith is protected. Masizole Mnqasela is punished and Beverley Shaffer is protected,” Sayed said.
He was referring to Schäfer, having been hauled before the legislature’s conduct committee to probe complaints that she refused to downgrade her luxury state-funded BMW after a six-month stint as MEC ended.
EFF MPL Nosipho Makamba-Botya has condemned the DA in the provincial executive committee and legislature for bringing the parliament into disrepute.
“This follows the attempts to force the speaker to resign. The matter has its roots within the DA factional battles, which are now playing themselves out in the public and affecting the two arms of government.
“The DA finds it unacceptable for an African man to refer a white woman to the conduct committee for possible sanctions,” Makamba-Botya said.
Local government MEC Anton Bredell has described the ANC’s comments during the sitting as nonsensical.
“For the record I can state there are no divisions in the DA and they must stop focusing on us and rather try to see what can be done to save their sinking ship that is pulling the entire county under water,” Bredell said.
“The premier has acted within his powers, the rule of law and within what anyone can expect from a premier. It is never easy to act against your own colleagues. I am proud to be part of this team because as the DA we promised to the people we will discipline our members where necessary and be strict,” he said.