Publication: Sunday Times Issued: Date: 2001-03-18 Reporter: Editor: Carol Paton

ANC to Woods : We Won't Axe You

Publication  Sunday Times
Date 2001-03-18
Editor Carol Paton
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The ANC has assured Gavin Woods, the chairman of Parliament's standing committee on public accounts, that it will not act to remove him. 

But the ruling party still intends to insist that Woods be censured for acting ultra vires (beyond his legal authority) by going beyond his mandate in dealings on the R43-billion arms-purchase inquiry. 

The assurance that Woods, an IFP member, would not be removed follows the removal of ANC MP Andrew Feinstein as leader of the ANC on the committee. Feinstein and Woods had worked closely together during the inquiry. 

ANC MP Vincent Smith said he had met Woods this week to reassure him the ANC wanted him to stay on as chairman of the standing committee. The move is certain to improve the unity of the committee, but it still faces some difficult issues. 

Chief among these is a decision on whether Woods acted ultra vires when he wrote to President Thabo Mbeki asking him to include Judge Willem Heath's Special Investigating Unit in the arms inquiry. 

Deputy President Jacob Zuma wrote back to Woods, accusing him of acting ultra vires on the grounds that he believed it was Woods's personal desire rather than the committee's that Heath should be included. 

With acknowledgment to Carol Paton and Sunday Times.