MPs to Scrutinise Heath Controversy, Capital Gains Tax
President Thabo Mbeki's exclusion of Judge Willem Heath's Special Investigating Unit from the probe into the government's controversial R43 billion arms acquisition programme, and the pending introduction of a Capital Gains Tax (CGT), will be high on the agenda as MPs return to Parliament from tomorrow for this year's session.
The public accounts standing committee and the finance portfolio committee are the only two scheduled to meet this week and both will probably be closed to the public and media.
The finance committee is to have a closed training session at Parliament tomorrow on the controversial CGT announced in last year's Budget by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.
On Tuesday its doors will open to the public and media when it has an informal briefing by the South African Revenue Services on the tax, and from Wednesday to Friday it is to have public hearings on the issue.
The public accounts committee is to start a four-day workshop on Monday at conference centre in the Cape Town suburb Constantia.
Committee chairman Dr Gavin Woods, of the Inkatha Freedom Party, told Sapa on Sunday members would probably decide they wanted plenary proceedings to be behind closed doors.
But he could perhaps be mandated to talk to the media late on Monday afternoon, or the committee may decide to issue a statement on the government's criticism of it on the Heath affair.
Apart from this issue, the committee would be discussing such matters as outstanding reports and any other new issues that may have arisen.
Woods said he was upset at the tone of a report in Sunday's Rapport newspaper which suggested he was going to "shake" the government.
The report quoted Woods as saying he possessed information on the arms scandal which showed the need for a strong, independent probe.
"The government doesn't know what information I have; they are taking chances," he was quoted as saying.
Such "sensational" reporting was both misleading and insensitive of the committee's position, Woods said.
He said people who knew him knew he would not adopt such a stance.
Woods said that he was relieved his committee was reconvening, so it could discuss the way forward.
President Thabo Mbeki is to officially open this year's Parliamentary session on February 9 and Manuel is to present this year's Budget on February 21.
With acknowledgement to Sapa and SABC News.