Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi File picture: ANA Pictures

Parliament - It was up to parliamentary committees to use its powers to sanction cabinet ministers who fail to account to Parliament, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa, who as leader of government business is responsible for ensuring ministers account to Parliament, was asked whether he had looked into why Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, despite committing to appear before a parliamentary oversight committee to answer questions, failed to do so. 

"They [MPs] should get an explanation from the member [Muthambi] in question, so that I trust that should then take place and I will be raising it as well soon," said Ramaphosa.

He reminded MPs the Constitution gave them the authority to call ministers to account and had the power to sanction members of the executive where necessary.

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Ntombovuyo Mente was not happy with this answer, saying the portfolio committee on public service and administration had resolved to subpoena Muthambi and make her personally pay the costs of the collapsed meeting.

"Guess what happened? It [subpoena] was withdrawn from another level, so where are these powers? The subpoena has been withdrawn," said Mente.

"She has never accounted for anything and yet, she remains a member of cabinet. Why is that?"

Ramaphosa insisted the matter was with the committee and that they should take action. 

"Such powers [to sanction ministers] do not reside with the leader of government business and this is so because it is this House who can also sanction me..."

Asked whether he would recommend Muthambi's axing, Ramaphosa said it was not his job.

"The Deputy President does not appoint members of the executive, so I cannot do that, I cannot even venture into the direction you are suggesting...to recommend or not recommend. It's not my duty...it's not my burden, and it's not my responsibility."

Muthambi has been found to be incompetent by MPs serving on a parliamentary inquiry into the affairs of the South African Broadcasting Corporation when she was still Communications Minister. They recommended President Jacob Zuma consider dismissing her.

In her latest portfolio, several reports surfaced that she had flown family and friends to Cape Town for her budget speech at a cost of over R300 000 to the taxpayer. It was also reported she staffed her private office beyond what was allowed in the ministerial handbook.

African News Agency