ANC Axes Top MP in "Arms Deal Fallout"
The African National Congress has dropped one of its most vocal and talented MPs, Andrew Feinstein, as chair of its study group on public accounts and replaced him with the party's Deputy Chief Whip Geoff Doidge.
Feinstein is a prominent member of the National Assembly public accounts committee, and - with committee chair Gavin Woods (IFP) - led the charge to ensure the executive was accountable to parliament, including on the matter of the R43-billion arms deal. Feinstein was also the ANC's official spokesperson for public accounts.
He incurred the wrath of Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad last year for his views on the arms deal, but was reportedly defended by Deputy President Jacob Zuma. Following the fallout over whether the Heath Investigating Unit should be included in the multi-agency probe, Feinstein appears to have been sidelined by the party bosses.
However, he remains an ordinary member of the public accounts committee and the party's study group. An ANC spokesperson in parliament would not comment on the apparent demotion, and referred all queries to Doidge. Doidge has also replaced Feinstein as the ANC's official spokesperson on public accounts.
Neither Doidge nor Feinstein were immediately available for comment. Doidge fills a vacancy on the public accounts committee left by Serake Leeuw, who has become mayor of Welkom. ANC Chief Whip Tony Yengeni said Doidge's appointment was aimed at "strengthening the study group because it has important matters to consider". He did not elaborate.
Yengeni said other parties, including the Democratic Alliance, had also beefed up their representation on the committee. Other ANC MPs to join the committee include ANC caucus chairman in parliament Thabang Makwetla, and Percylia Mothoagae.
ANC MP Andries Nel - who chairs a special parliamentary committee on Public Protector Selby Baqwa's findings against Justice Minister Penuell Maduna - has also been appointed to the committee.
The Nel committee has on repeatedly postponed its report - citing insufficient time to complete it. Nel said last year he hoped his committee would finally report back to parliament by February 28, 2001.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.