National

ANC trashes claims of withholding Swazi loan

Sapa

ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga has denied that the ANC in the NCOP endorsed a call on the government to hold back on a loan to Swaziland.

ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga has denied that the ANC in the NCOP endorsed a call on the government to hold back on a loan to Swaziland. (AFP)

The claim by Democratic Alliance MP Alf Lees was a "shameless lie and a deliberate distortion of the facts", he said on Thursday. "Neither the ANC nor the NCOP have expressed support for DA MP Alf Lees's motion. Either Lees ... is clueless about the functioning of the NCOP in relation to the party motions, or is just plain naïve," he said.

On Wednesday, Lees issued a statement welcoming the ANC's support in the NCOP for his motion without notice calling on the government to hold back payment of the R1.4-billion bailout to Swaziland.

"I asked the House to note that King Mswati III of Swaziland – one of the few remaining absolute monarchs in the world – continues to refuse to allow a democratic dispensation and lives an excessively lavish lifestyle while his people live in poverty."

He also asked the House to call on the government to refuse financial assistance to Swaziland until certain conditions were met.

State of emergency
These included scrapping the 39-year-old state of emergency, implementing universal human rights, ensuring none of the loan funds be spent on the monarchy, immediate implementing a multi-party transitional government, and immediately starting multi-party negotiations towards a new democratic constitution for Swaziland, Lees said.

Motions without notice follow after the usual notices of motion by members, which do not have to be agreed to by the House. If any party objects to a motion without notice, it becomes a normal notice of motion and is recorded as such.

According to the minutes of proceedings in the NCOP on August 28, Lees's motion without notice was put to the House by the presiding officer and was agreed to by the House unopposed.

In his statement on Thursday, Motshekga said "members' motions in the NCOP were equivalent to political party statements".

"They represent views of political parties and do not need to be endorsed by other parties or accepted as resolutions of the House.

Enjoying support
"It is nothing short of a brazen delusion for one to believe that a member's motion automatically enjoys the support of the majority party and qualifies as a resolution of the House as soon as it is presented," he said.

The ANC's position with regard to the loan to Swaziland remained unchanged. The bailout was based on conditions that the government of Swaziland undertook reform measures guided by the Joint Bilateral Commissions for Co-operation (JBBC) agreement," Motshekga said.

In his statement on Wednesday, Lees said Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had recently stated that the loan, which is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding, was subject to certain fiscal and political conditions.

The first tranche of the loan was scheduled for payment in September 2012, despite the political situation in Swaziland remaining questionable.

"I will be writing to the minister of finance ... asking that, in accordance with the motion passed in Parliament, that this process is put on hold until the above conditions are met," he said. – Sapa

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