ANC MPs would caucus with ministers and directors-general before meetings in which they were expected to hold them accountable, a former ANC MP testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture.
The first person to testify before the commission on Tuesday was former ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho, who chaired the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
Rantho first became an MP in the Fourth Parliament (2009 to 2014) and then became a delegate to the National Council of Provinces and, as such, she was part of the ANC’s parliamentary caucus.
She said she stood by the statement in her affidavit to the commission that the ANC caucus didn’t discuss corruption and undue influence during the term of the Fourth Parliament until the matter was in court or there was concrete evidence.
At that time, allegations about the Guptas’ influence were already in the public domain, but Rantho said there were “no attempts by ANC MPs to investigate” these allegations.
Commission evidence leader advocate Alec Freund then turned to her time as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises in the Fifth Parliament (from 2014).
He asked about the ANC study groups. The MPs serving on a specific committee forms that particular study group.
So, the ANC study group on public enterprises comprises the ANC MPs serving on the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises.
Part of it
Freund asked if the study group ever met with the ministers or directors-general before a meeting in which they were expected to exercise oversight over the ministers and officials.
“If the minister is available, the minister would be part of the study group,” she said, adding that this would also be the case for directors-general.
“The members of the ANC stand by the study group decisions,” she said.
She said departments would provide committees with the required information late, and that difficult questions were often left unanswered.
She also said allegations of corruption raised by opposition MPs were often not discussed by the committee, as it already had a programme.
“I agree – the committee did not do its diligence,” she said. She thought this wasn’t because the ANC had a majority in the committee, but because they didn’t have “that real oomph to do oversight”.
“It is really unfortunate that we did not follow all these allegations in the public domain,” she said.
She said sometimes party leaders would prevent them from probing politically sensitive matters, adding that this was not particular to the ANC, but was done by all parties.
“A Member of Parliament is in Parliament because of a political party,” she said.
Testimony continues through Tuesday when the commission will hear from veteran DA MP James Selfe and former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza.