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Mervyn Dirks issues an ultimatum to ANC over his suspension

ANC Member of Parliament and suspended Whip on Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Mervyn Dirks, has given his party’s Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina until Monday to lift his suspension or face off in court. Picture: Supplied.

ANC Member of Parliament and suspended Whip on Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Mervyn Dirks, has given his party’s Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina until Monday to lift his suspension or face off in court. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jan 24, 2022

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DURBAN - MEMBER of Parliament and suspended whip on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Mervyn Dirks, has given his party’s Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina until Monday to lift his suspension or face off in court.

Dirks’ lawyer Godrich Gardee sent a letter to the ANC in Parliament demanding the party restore Dirks’ responsibilities as the whip of the committee. Majodina had suspended him for refusing to withdraw a letter calling on Scopa to summon President Cyril Ramaphosa to account for allegations of complicity in the misappropriation of public funds for political party campaigning.

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“Your office served our client with a letter of precautionary suspension on January 21, alleging that his conduct was unbecoming of a Whip of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus.

“However, our client was fulfilling his constitutional obligation as a member of Scopa and as a dutiful citizen.

“The purported suspension of our client in Scopa activities is unlawful and invalid and is inconsistent with several provisions of the Constitution, including s42(3), s56, and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004.

“It is our instruction to demand from you, as we hereby do, that you restore our client of all rights and privileges …and provide us with a written undertaking within 24 hours that you shall not interfere with the duties and responsibilities entrusted to our client, failing which we are instructed to approach the court for urgent and appropriate relief,” read the letter.

Majodina had, on Tuesday last week, instructed Dirks to withdraw his letter to the chair of Scopa, Mkhuleko Hlengwa. However, Dirks refused to give in and demanded Majodina furnish him with reasons for the withdrawal. He asked if his letter was in conflict with his oath of office and what informed the decision to instruct him not to play his oversight role.

Responding to Dirks’ argument, Majodina said Dirks’ conduct was unbecoming of a whip and stripped him of his position as a whip of the ANC in the Scopa study group and his membership of the strategy group in the ANC in Parliament; removed him from caucus WhatsApp groups; and prohibited him from engaging on any media platform regarding the matter.

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On January 20, a recording of the strategic meeting of the ANC caucus held on Tuesday evening last week was revealed where Parliament House Chairperson of Committees Cedric Frolick raised his concern about Dirks’ conduct.

Frolick demanded to know what Dirks would do to get the ANC out of the situation where Ramaphosa had to be dragged to Scopa.

“I want to say here in front of comrade Dirks, whether he had ill or good intentions … the challenge that we sit with now is this thing in front of us. So those who planned and manoeuvred, it’s you that is going to get us into a situation where Parliament has to respond in terms of the rules.

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“It is inevitable that we will have to look at this, so whoever thought about things knew that even if they introduce the subject in the wrong manner, it will have to go toward to its logical conclusion in terms of the institution that we are sitting in,” Frolick said in the recording.

Asked whether Dirks’ suspension would hinder the work of the committee in holding Ramaphosa accountable, Scopa chair, Hlengwa, said he was not informed about the suspension, and only read the reports in the media.

“If Dirks is suspended we have to determine in a discussion with Parliament’s legal advisers about the developments. But it is worthy to note that Scopa can call anyone, including Dirks, to appear before the committee to help Scopa carry out its mandate.”

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Hlengwa also mentioned that the ruling party held the majority of members in the committee. In the event the committee should sit, members of the ANC in Scopa would require approval to attend from their Chief Whip.

Approached for comment Majodina’s acting caucus spokesperson, Nomfanelo Kota, said the party would not comment on internal matters of the caucus.

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