/ 18 February 2008

ANC says DA is making a ‘mockery of Parliament’

The Democratic Alliance was making a mockery of Parliament, the African National Congress (ANC) charged on Sunday.

This, after public protector Lawrence Mushwana recommended Parliamentary action against DA MP Mike Waters.

Waters complained last year that President Thabo Mbeki had abused his office by demanding that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang get priority on a organ-transplant list and that her alleged alcoholism be concealed.

Mushwana found that Waters’ complaint was without foundation or substance and that he had acted unconstitutionally, in a manner unbecoming an MP, and had abused the Office of the Public Protector for political gain.

The DA has accused Mushwana of being ”overtly partisan” towards the ANC in not only this, but other rulings

”The Office of Public Protector shows a general tendency to respond with alacrity in defence of high-profile members of the ruling party, but with snail’s pace reluctance to anything where these interests might be prejudiced,” DA chief whip Ian Davidson said in a statement on Sunday.

Although the DA had withdrawn its request for an investigation after obtaining an assurance on the matter from President Mbeki, ”the Public Protector nevertheless continued with the investigation”, he said.

He eventually ruled that he could find ”no substantive or reliable evidence”.

”Mushwana has labelled the withdrawal of our complaint as a ‘refusal to cooperate with the public protector’,” said Davidson.

”Yet, he himself, when the matter is politically sensitive, has refused to cooperate with complainants by simply ignoring their requests.”

Mushwana had produced a detailed, 46-page document interrogating every detail of a complaint which had been withdrawn, he said.

”Yet in other cases, again where high-ranking ANC members are involved, he has glibly accepted assurances and taken claims at face value in order to exonerate the accused individuals.”

Davidson said Mushwana’s actions had justified the DA’s concerns about his appointment — as an active ANC politician — to a position requiring rigorous independence.

The ANC, however, has accused Waters of making the allegations ”merely to attain cheap political mileage”.

”The ANC caucus has, on numerous occasions, raised serious concerns regarding the quality of the DA’s opposition politics, particularly the conduct and unsavoury tactics employed by its leaders in their pursuit of narrow political point-scoring.” it said in a statement.

The DA’s failure act against its MPs and to publicly support Waters ”makes a mockery of Parliament and the role of the leading opposition within the institution”, it said, hoping the Speaker would act expeditiously in the matter. – Sapa