Below is a brief interview Political Analysis South Africa’s Stephanie Naidoo had with the Spokesperson for the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Mr Kenneth Mokgatlhe, on the PAC’s request to replace the expelled President of the party, Mr Luthando Mbinda, with the party’s preferred candidate.
Interviewer: I understand that the Speaker of the National Assembly has not responded to your letter regarding replacing the expelled President of the PAC, for four months? Please could you elaborate on this?
Kenneth Mokgatlhe: What happened briefly is that on the 14th of June, the NDC (5) then decided to expel Mr Mbinda. The reason for expulsion was that he had not been compliant with the NDC requirement, that he was supposed to attend the Disciplinary Committee that was setup for him because, there were charges brought against him. The charges suggest that he had brought the organisation into disrepute, and he continued to do that, and that is why the NDC took that decision. The National Executive Committee (NEC) endorsed the decision, saying that it was indeed necessary for the leadership of the PAC, collectively so, to expel him because of things that he has been doing outside of the organisation; he is not showing any remorse, or regret. And the letter was sent, subsequently, to the Office of the Speaker sometime after the meeting of the 14th of June, to inform him of the decision of the NEC that “he is no longer representing the PAC; so, could you at least assist us in order to swear in the preferred replacement for him.”
The Speaker has always been dallied, and has always taken her time, with us – claiming that he is still the President of the PAC, taking the decision on behalf of the PAC; whilst, the same people that took Mr Mbinda to Parliament, were the same people to say that he is no longer a member of the PAC. But, the Speaker decided to ignore the decision of the PAC. Always, when we try to get the updates from Parliament, we have been informed and always told that the legal team is dealing with that particular issue, up until today. We also had taken (Parliament) them to the Western Cape High Court, sometime last month, whereby the judiciary had taken the decision that our case lacked agency, so we are continuing the matter. But, we have also decided to involve the Office of the Public Protector. Our decision to involve the Office of the Public Protector is informed by the fact that we are having an impression that the public funds, and tax-payers, are not being taken seriously. There is money that is being used illegally – to pay someone who is not a Member of Parliament, and who has been invited to serve in Parliament without a political party. As far as we understand the political system of this country, it is that the political party contests elections, and after elections a political party deploys its own comrades – you do not represent yourself, you represent a specified or a particular party.
So, in this regard, Mr Mbinda is there (in Parliament) on his own. But, what we suspect, primarily, is Mr Mbinda and Mrs Baleka Mbete, are both from the Eastern Cape, so we are finding an element of “homeboy” and “homegirl,” here. And, the question of tribalism might also be a factor in this particular issue, because in the past we had this particular case or scenario whereby it took us about three months, and we removed Mr Mphethi, we also removed Mr Letlapa Mphahlele – it was never an issue. We were, in fact, about to go to court and receive a court order to direct us to act in a particular fashion, but in this regard, Mrs Baleka Mbete, has taken it upon herself – she has acted as the judiciary of this country, and she never even asked us to go to court, but she has taken that initiative.
We have informed the Secretary General of the ANC, because we cannot ignore the fact that it is the ANC, which is in government, and does have an influence in what Mrs Baleka Mbete is doing; we must never forget that she is also the National Chairperson of the ANC. And, that is why we are involving the ANC as a political party – to intervene.
Is there any other evidence to support that the Speaker has a serious interest in this issue?
When we are comparing them (Speakers), from Dr Frene Ginwala to Mr Max Sisulu, we never had this kind of antagonistic relationship towards these Speakers. But, this time it was an issue – we had to go to court, we had to spend about four to five months, with the Parliamentary funds being frozen – and once you have done that, you are compromising the administration of the party because, it is not going to be effective without funds – you need funds to run administration. So, this is our view of what is happening – the same situation is repeating itself. It is not the first time that we have received hostile treatment from the Speaker. She was a Speaker in the last Parliament, in 2014, and after the election she was still the Speaker of Parliament; and when we received this first treatment, we had to go to court, we had to use money, which was not there of course, but we had to find it somewhere, in order for us to move forward as a political party, and prepare for 2016 elections. If you may remember, during the elections, it became very difficult to organise ourselves, hence you saw the results, and the performance of the PAC. We registered in the eleventh hour, due to this inept attitude that we are receiving.
It is incompetent behaviour that we are finding from the Office of the Speaker. We have been receiving this particular gesture for quite a while now; what we are seeing is that they are behaving in such a way, in order to waste our time, and to defocus us from the gist, or the real issues. What we are supposed to be focusing on as a political party, obviously, is the struggle that our people are facing on a daily basis. And, in fact, we are not doing that, we are being forced to focus on things which we should not be focused on. And, look at the EFF – when they were reviewing those three Members of Parliament who were debating against them, it was never an issue – I am talking about, as you know, Dikgama, Ramakatsa and others. It was never an issue. Those people were claiming that were EFF members – this is an issue which is prevailing in the PAC, today, but because it is us, we are receiving this sort of gesture, and they are really showing us the middle finger.