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Jackson Mthembu praised at Zondo commission for backing ANC MPs probing graft

The late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

The late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 3, 2021

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Johannesburg - Former chairperson of the National Assembly’s portfolio committee on public enterprises Zukiswa Rantho on Tuesday praised late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu for encouraging ANC MPs to pursue allegations of wrongdoing against party members.

Rantho told the commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday that the committee had leadership in a person like Mthembu, who died of Covid-19-related complications last month.

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”He would say: ’You push for what is right. You do what is right, you correct what is wrong. You tell a person if they are wrong politically and administratively,’” she recalled Mthembu telling the committee.

Rantho, who was not returned as ANC MP after the 2019 national and provincial elections, insisted that this was the attitude throughout the term between 2014 and 2019.

”We need to do what is right, if there are any allegations against a certain person who is in our committee or who is leading our committee, we need to probe that person,” the former ANC chief whip reinforced to the governing party’s MPs.

When the committee was about to embark on a parliamentary inquiry into Eskom, Rantho said Mthembu assured ANC MPs that they must continue even if there were people in the caucus who did not want their investigation to go through.

Mthembu, according to Rantho, assured members of the committee that the majority of ANC national executive committee members wanted the inquiry to continue.

She said some members of the ANC caucus feared that the inquiry would implicate party members.

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Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked if there were ANC members who thought it would be protecting the governing party if allegations were not brought into the open

”That’s correct, chairperson,” Rantho responded.

She admitted that the committee did not always conduct due diligence in its work and did not have the “oomph” to do real oversight on the allegations swelling against the controversial, fugitive Gupta family.

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The committee, Rantho said, only took a decision to investigate the allegations on Eskom when they became “too much”.

She said opposition MPs in the committee would just present in front of the minister, director-general or state-owned entity executives and she felt it was not enough to just speak about allegations without evidence.

According to Rantho, the committee started looking into the evidence that, fortunately, came from former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture Report in 2016 and at the beginning of the following year.

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She said in 2016 all political parties were concerned with the local government elections and most of the time that year MPs were outside Parliament doing political work.

”A member of Parliament is in Parliament because of a political party. Political parties would make us not probe a certain issue that is politically sensitive. It does not only happen in the ruling party; it happens in other political parties,” she explained.

MPs, according to Rantho, who did not toe the line could end up being removed by their political party.

”That is why I am saying it cuts across political parties; it does not only happen in one political party. It can happen to any party. We did not have any person who is prohibiting us from doing our job,” she maintained.

The commission’s hearings will resume on Wednesday.

Political Bureau

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