Axe finally falls on Bongani Bongo as ANC shakes up parliamentary caucus

Removal of Bongo, who faces corruption charges, is among several changes to the heads of portfolio committees announced by chief whip Pemmy Majodina

Bongani Bongo in Parliament on December 07 2017". Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Bongani Bongo in Parliament on December 07 2017". Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Controversial ANC MP Bongani Bongo, who is facing corruption and fraud charges in the Mpumalanga High Court, has been removed as chairperson of parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee.

Bongo’s dismissal follows his suspension from the post in May after refusing to voluntarily step aside while facing fraud allegations, as per party guidelines.

He will remain an ordinary MP, serving on the home affairs committee.

According to several high-placed sources, Bongo’s removal was among several changes announced by ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina at the party’s caucus meeting on Thursday.

ANC caucus spokesperson Nomfanelo Kota was unable to comment.

Party insiders said portfolio committee chairpersons aligned with suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule have been moved around and, with one exception, replaced by people sympathetic to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Among them are officials whose election was opposed by opposition parties and who have been criticised by civil society for being implicated at the state capture commission.

Faith Muthambi, who has been leading the co-operative governance and traditional affairs committee, has swapped roles with former Eastern Cape MEC Fikile Xasa, according to sources. Xasa was the chairperson of the environment, forestry and fisheries oversight committee.

Despite initial objection to her election in July 2019, Muthambi is credited for the committee’s tough approach to floundering municipalities.

International relations and co-operation portfolio committee chair Tandi Mahambehlala — who led the international relations and co-operation portfolio committee’s criticism of minister Naledi Pandor for her handling of the suspension of director-general Kgabo Mahoai  on Wednesday — has swapped places with former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, who has chaired the tourism portfolio committee since June 2019.

The international relations and co-operation committee has also spoken out at Pandor’s perceived inaction against officials implicated in the controversial purchase of a dilapidated New York building for R118m.

MPs have also criticised Pandor for suspending Mahoai, saying she was using him as a scapegoat in the matter.

“You must spare yourself from self-importance — your utterances, I find them very arrogant,” Mahambehlala told Pandor during a heated meeting of the committee in February.

Former #FeesMustFall leader Nompendulo Mkhatshwa is said to be the new chairperson of the committee overseeing higher education. This follows the promotion of the committee’s chairperson, Philly Mapulane, to Ramaphosa’s executive.

Mapulane was appointed deputy minister of communications and digital technologies earlier this month.

In the National Council of Provinces, Zolani Mkiva, an ANC delegate from the Eastern Cape, will replace former Buffalo City mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, who stepped aside earlier this year while facing fraud charges in the so-called Mandela funeral scandal.

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