A convicted fraudster chairing the education portfolio committee in parliament would be all the proof needed that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise in his past State of the Nation address to clean up parliament and Cabinet is nothing but a farce.
This was the opinion of school lobbyists Equal Education, which was angered at the news that Zukisa Faku, former mayor of Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape, was nominated for the position of chairperson of the portfolio committee on education in parliament.
Other nominations for portfolio committees have also been criticised as disregarding the shady track-records of the nominees.
Faku, who had served in the National Assembly since 2014, has been embroiled in fraud scandals, even after she was convicted in 2016 of nine counts of fraud for using a municipal credit card to buy luxury items overseas.
The East London Magistrate’s Court found she had abused her position as Buffalo City mayor in 2010, by misusing a municipal credit card. She was sentenced to three years’ house arrest and community service.
Last year, Faku walked free after facing charges in another fraud scandal involving eight other Buffalo City employees, who were accused of defrauding the municipality of more than R15 million.
In the same year, she filed fraud charges against her 25-year-old nephew after he allegedly used a fake Facebook account to pose as her, in order to run a cash-for-jobs scam.
Equal Education spokesperson Leanne Jansen-Thomas said the NGO wanted Ramaphosa to have Faku’s nomination withdrawn.
“It is impossible to take seriously Ramaphosa’s February 2019 Sona, where he emphasised the importance of prioritising education, when his parliamentary caucus has nominated a convicted fraudster to chair the portfolio committee on basic education,” she said.
“The chairperson of the portfolio committee on education must ensure that the department of basic education (DBE) delivers its mandate and spends public funds responsibly.
“The appointment of Ms Faku to this position would be an insult to South Africa’s pupils and teachers, and would make a mockery of legislative oversight,” Jansen-Thomas claimed.
The NGO planned a demonstration outside parliament last night during Ramaphosa’s address. This was to implore Ramaphosa to hold Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga accountable for the implementation of the Minimum Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure.
“We welcome the president’s announcement that members of Cabinet will be made to sign performance contracts with very specific outcomes,” said Jansen-Thomas.
“We ask that the president make these contracts public, and for Minister Motshekga’s contract to include compliance with the Norms and Standards deadlines,” she said in a statement.