chair voted out of body

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Chaos erupted in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature when a motion to oust chairman of the Standing Committee of Public Account (Scopa) JoAnne Downs was tabled yesterday.

Downs, an ACDP MPL, was removed from her post and replaced by the National Democratic Convention (Nadeco) president Hawu Mbatha.

The IFP walked out of the legislature, showing its disgust at the decision.

Parties opposed to her ousting said she "was a pillar in fighting corruption" in the province.

The DA's KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Roger Burrows yesterday warned that he would take over from where Downs left off and "expose the corruption in the provincial government".

Political analyst Protas Madlala said "Downs was a sacrificial lamb to make way for new ANC sympathiser Mbatha".

"Downs was a known champion in this portfolio and in any political war, the first casualty is the truth."

Downs was shown the door after the ANC chief whip, Cyril Xaba, complained that she had abused her powers to score political points. She was accused of leaking information on vital investigations to the media.

Xaba brought the motion that Downs be removed, saying the committee's trust in Downs had irretrievably broken down as she had constantly leaked information to the media.

"Some committee reports were leaked by Downs. She is the author of her own fate," he said.

Downs, who has served as chairman of Scopa since 2004, was removed from the committee after the ANC, UDM, MF and Nadeco voted her out.

Downs said her removal constituted "the worst form of abuse of power by the ANC".