Ire at new Scopa leader

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A war of words has erupted between the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal following the ANC's replacement of the chairman of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa).

Jo-Anne Downs of the African Christian Democratic Party has been replaced by Hawu Mbatha of the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco).

The IFP's Lionel Mtshali said the decision to replace Downs was appalling.

"Downs's removal is parallel to the national government's drive to dismantle the Scorpions. If an institution or a person proves particularly effective in the fight against government corruption, they are quickly targeted for removal," said Mtshali.

He said the IFP was unhappy about new chairman Mbatha.

"The privilege of chairing Scopa, by convention, goes to a representative of the political opposition.

"Mbatha and Nadeco are an extension of the ruling party."

He said the IFP felt that Mbatha's role in chairing Scopa might constitute a conflict of interest as he has reportedly been a beneficiary of a mechanisation programme run by the department of agriculture and environmental affairs.

"It is inconceivable that someone who has directly benefited from a government-funded programme should preside over a parliamentary committee that oversees the implementation of government policy," said Mtshali.

The ANC chief whip, Cyril Xaba, defended the decision to replace Downs with Mbatha.

He said the appointment was a consensus decision. He said Mbatha's appointment would not create any conflict of interest.