/ 10 July 2024

Rise Mzansi’s Songezo Zibi elected as new chair of watchdog Scopa

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Rise Mzansi leader, Songezo Zibi. (Photo by Deaan Vivier/Beeld/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

Rise Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi has been elected chair of parliament’s watchdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts, continuing the tradition of giving the post to an opposition politician.

It was previously held by the Inkatha Freedom Party’s Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who now serves as deputy minister of transport in the government of national unity. 

Rise Mzansi did not get any positions in the executive in return for joining the broad coalition and it was widely expected that the party, which won two seats in the National Assembly, would instead get to lead a key committee in the legislature.

In a statement, Rise Mzansi said Scopa “can best be described as a super oversight committee”  since it interrogates how taxpayers’ money is spent.

“Scopa now has a new leader who will work with and for the people of South Africa to ensure that money is spent and accounted for in the pursuit of building a safe, prosperous, equal and united South Africa,” it added.

The Democratic Alliance will chair five of parliament’s 30 portfolio committees. 

Jan Naude de Villiers from the DA will chair the portfolio committee on public administration and Leon Basson will chair water affairs, where the new minister is former ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina.

New DA MP Ian Cameron was elected chairperson of the portfolio committee on police. 

Joe McGluwa will chair the portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture and Bridget Masango the portfolio committee on social development, after having served for years as the party’s spokesperson on that portfolio.

Twenty-nine committee chairs were elected on Tuesday and Wednesday, with only the portfolio committee on science, technology and innovation postponing its vote to a later date. 

Build One South Africa’s leader Mmusi Maimane will chair the standing committee on appropriations, though his party has not committed to joining the governing coalition of 11 parties.

Three-quarters of portfolio committees will be led by members of the ANC, including five that will oversee ministries now headed by members of the DA.

New ANC MP Khomotjo Maimela was elected chairperson of the basic education committee and Mosa Chabane, also a newcomer to parliament, will chair the portfolio committee on home affairs. The DA’s Siviwe Gwarube and Leon Schreiber serve as ministers of health and home affairs respectively.

Former minister of communications Dina Pule will chair the portfolio committee on agriculture, overseeing the ministry now occupied by DA leader John Steenhuisen.

The ANC’s Nqabisa Gantsho was elected chair of the portfolio committee on the environment, forestry and fisheries and new ANC MP Khusela Sangoni will head the committee on communications. These ministries are led respectively by the DA’s Dion George and Solly Malatsi.

Sangoni is better known by her marital surname, Diko, and served as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson but was shifted sideways in 2021 after she was embroiled in a Covid-19 protective equipment procurement scandal.

The new portfolio committee on correctional services, which was created after Ramaphosa split the ministry from justice, creating a cabinet post for Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder, will be chaired by the ANC’s Anthea Ramolobeng.

Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo was elected to serve another term as chair of the portfolio committee on international relations, overseeing a ministry now headed by Ronald Lamola.

Dakota Legoete, the former ANC chairperson in North West and ally of Mahumapelo, is the new chairperson of the portfolio committee on defence and military veterans.

The ANC’s Sibongiseni Dhlomo was elected as chairperson of the portfolio committee on health, a department that has reverted to Aaron Motsoaledi in the new coalition government.

Xola Nqola, who co-chaired the joint constitutional review committee, will take over the justice portfolio committee from the party’s Gratitude Magwanishe. The latter won praise for forging cooperation across party lines and seeking to effect thorough oversight over Lamola’s former ministry.

The ANC’s Joseph Maswanganyi was elected as the chairperson of the standing committee on finance, and Nomkhosi Mvana the portfolio committee on energy and electricity.

FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels will chair the standing committee on the auditor-general.

Zweli Mkhize, who was forced to resign as health minister in 2021 over the Digital Vibes scandal, was elected chairman of the portfolio committee on cooperative governance.