The Democratic Alliance has said it’s up to the ANC in the National Assembly to decide who it appoints as chairperson of Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).
And, in a surprise move this week, the DA, the governing party in the Western Cape, said it had offered the chairpersonship of Scopa in the provincial legislature to the ANC.
But there is more to the DA’s provincial offering. It says it hopes the ANC reciprocates the gesture by offering the Scopa chairpersonship to the official opposition in the National Assembly.
The DA’s chief whip in the provincial legislature, Mireille Wenger, said: “We [the DA] had that discussion and we thought it would be in keeping with democratic practice to offer it to the official opposition [in the provincial legislature]. It would also be in the interest of transparency, accountability and good co-operative governance.
“So, yes [we’d like them to reciprocate],” she added.
The Scopa position in the Western Cape legislature was previously held by the African Christian Democratic Party’s Ferlon Christians, who returned to the legislature as his party’s sole representative after the 2019 elections.
Wenger would not comment directly on what the party’s caucus thought of the ability of Christians as Scopa chair.
“It’s a new term. So that decision is made by the majority party. We had that discussion and this was the outcome,” she said. The ANC said it has not been formally approached by the DA on the provincial Scopa position.
“Once we have received such a proposal formally, we will discuss the matter as a caucus and consult with our provincial leadership,” the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore, who is the leader of opposition in the provincial legislature, said in a statement.
“We will consider any proposal in line with our commitment to being an effective, vigilant, hardworking, responsive and constructive opposition.”
But an ANC insider said it would be “churlish not to accept the DA’s offer”.
Both parties, provincially and nationally, have talked about showing more maturity in areas such as co-operation.
“We want to turn a page and move away from an adversarial style of opposition politics,” said the ANC insider. “So once we have consulted the provincial leadership, we will likely accept [the DA’s offer].”
For the past 10 years, Themba Godi, of the African People’s Convention, has chaired Scopa at national level, but his party did not secure enough seats to return to Parliament. The ANC caucus in the National Assembly said it is still finalising the names of parliamentary committee members and who it will nominate as chairpersons.
Scopa is the legislature’s public accounts watchdog, ensuring that public funds are accounted for and that government departments are held to account if money is misspent.