August 05, 2020

Meet parliament’s new engine drivers

News update: Basic education committee chairperson Zukisa Faku has stepped down after it emerged that she continued occupying her parliamentary seat after being convicted of fraud and theft. 

Your average parliamentary fly on the wall must have had an interesting time in the run-up to the released of the nominated committee chairpersons.

The public was privy to reports of unexpected delays and last-minute releases, and Ramaphosa reportedly ordered the cancellation of an ANC parliamentary caucus meeting after he was alerted by his parliamentary counsellor, Gerhard Koornhof, that ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule was about to announce the list before it had been approved by Ramaphosa and the ANC's top six.

Much horse trading followed, but in the end it looks like Ramaphosa aced this round. In terms of the numbers anyway, though it does depend on the importance of the committee. People switch sides, Members’ allegiance is rarely spelled out, some choose the camp that offers the best deals. Numbers don’t tell the whole story.

But who are these people who hold a potentially powerful role of chairing the National Assembly’s crucial committees, which are known colloquially, though not always accurately, as the “engines of parliament”? Instead of singling out only the high-profilers, see below biogs of all nominated chairpersons. (Committees are due to vote on 2 July for their chairperson. Given the ANC’s majority, the outcome is unlikely to depart from the party’s list of nominees.)

Ad Hoc Committee to amend section 25 of the Constitution and

Joint Constitutional Review Committee


Mathole Motshekga –Former chairperson of Justice Portfolio committee, but removed by the party in 2018. Clashed with his ANC committee colleagues over whether Parliament should consider DA call for proceedings to remove Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Also clashed with several civil society organisations over Traditional Courts Bill. Deployed to Joint Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament. Former ANC chief whip. Former Premier of Gauteng. A Ramaphosa supporter.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Committee

Mandla Mandela ‑ chief of the Mvezo Traditional Council and the grandson of Nelson Mandela. Given his ancestry it could be assumed that he would choose the Ramaphosa camp, but he is not saying and keeps that sort of thing to himself.

Appropriations Committee

Sfiso Buthelezi – was appointed Deputy Finance Minister by former president Zuma. Long-standing member and chair of Prasa board. That coincided with unfortunate tender for trains that were too tall for South African rail standards. He denied all knowledge of this but a later Treasury investigation said he and the Prasa board should face criminal charges over at least 30 contracts. Alleged to have failed to disclose that he was the COO of Makana Investments, a subsidiary of a company that had provided advisory services to Prasa. Also accused of allegedly benefitting from Swifambo contracts. In 2018, shifted to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as its deputy minister. Defender of controversial former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni. Returned to sixth parliament due to vacancies left by resignations of former cabinet ministers. A Zuma man in every way.


Sakhumzi Somyo – new to parliament. Served on Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature since 2014. Was member of provincial legislature’s committees on Health, Public Works, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Scopa. Until a provincial cabinet reshuffle earlier this year, was MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism. Faced calls from E Cape Youth League to step down. Has spoken out on need for rural development and big on renewable energy efforts in the Eastern Cape. Dodged the Mandela funeral funding scandal, and a rhino-hunting permit furore.

Basic Education

UPDATE - Faku stepped down when her convictions for fraud and theft were exposed. 

Zukisa Faku – Fired as an MP in 2016 after being found guilty on nine counts of fraud and theft and sentenced to three years of house arrest and community service for using mayoral credit card to purchase perfume, sunglasses, a R4,157 leather jacket, additional clothing and other items worth about R10,000. Crimes date back to an earlier stint as Buffalo City mayor. A publicly outraged ANC denounced her, welcomed the sentence saying the party “does not tolerate corruption” and fired her. But she was back in parliament a year later. NGO Equal Education (EE) is demanding her removal from this committee as a “convicted fraudster”. Last year, Faku walked free after facing charges in another fraud scandal involving eight other Buffalo City employees, who were accused of defrauding the municipality of more than R15 million. The East London magistrate refused to grant a further postponement. There was also something about her filing fraud charges against her 25-year-old nephew after he allegedly used a fake Facebook account to pose as her to run a cash-for-jobs scam. Previously and briefly a member of the NCOP. Given her propensity for getting into trouble, and her Teflon-esque ability to get out of it, she may look like your average Zuma supporter, but hard to tell where she belongs. Probably the camp most likely to keep her out of jail.

Communications Committee

Hope Papo – former ANC Gauteng Provincial Secretary and Gauteng Health MEC 2012. NGOs Section 27 and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) as well as Soweto clinic among those who had earlier slammed him for failing to fulfil promises to improve health services in Gauteng, though it should be taken into account that he inherited a sector in shambles and probably left it in a slightly better state. Health MEC during the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Considered a strong Ramaphosa supporter.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Committee

Faith Muthambi – Fired by President Ramaphosa, but returned to parliament as committee chairperson. Strongly implicated in the state capture commission of inquiry where she was alleged to have leaked Cabinet information to the Guptas. Former Communication Minister, where she delayed introduction of set-top boxes which led to a multi-year delay in South Africa’s digital migration efforts. Criticised at the 2016 parliamentary SABC inquiry that recommended Zuma consider sacking her. Instead Zuma promoted her to Minister of Public Service and Administration, where she wasted no time in hiring several family members. Listed and then cleared by the ANC integrity commission. Zuma loyalist. Gupta acolyte.

Defence and Military Veterans

Cyril Xaba – new to parliament. Formerly Agriculture MEC in KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, which he served since 1994. Was Special Advisor to the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal 2009 -2014, KZN Chief Whip in the legislature and chairperson of, amongst others, AD-hoc Constitutional Affairs Committee tasked to draft a constitution for the Province of KZN and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Planning Commission 2010 -2014.Ramaphosa supporter.

Public Service and Administration Committee and

Minister in the Presidency

James Tyotyo – Long-standing union man. Joined the National Union of Mineworkers in 1984 and elected shaft steward in 1989. Has distinction of being Cosatu’s first deputy president. Still warning the ANC that it needs to take care of the workers and threatening the party with ultimatums to take workers’ demands seriously, or else. Now that he has left the workplace for parliament he is firmly in the Ramaphosa camp.

Employment and Labour

Lindelwa Dunjwa – Previously long-standing, and hard-hitting, chairperson of the Committee on Health. An SACP figure who was one-time treasurer of Nehawu and has a history of involvement in the ANC underground structures during the 1980s, she campaigned back in the early 1990s for pro-choice for women on the abortion debate. A Ramaphosa supporter.

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Committee

Fikile Xasa – new to parliament. Served at the Eastern Cape provincial legislature since 2014, and was Eastern Cape Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, where he took on the scourge of illegal circumcisions. He also publicly took on Jacob Zuma, the Zuma administration, corruption, nepotism and party factionalism. A fearless member of the Ramaphosa team. Alleged to be behind the no-confidence vote which unseated former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip.

Finance Committee

Joe Maswanganyi – appointed Transport Minister in the Zuma cabinet, appeared before parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee on allegations of state capture at Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). Announced intention to appoint controversial former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni as a special adviser. Active in the 2017 election campaign for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president. Everyone knows where he belongs (though some say not in parliament).

Health Committee

Sibongiseni Dhlomo – medical doctor, former KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC and former Deputy City manager responsible for Health and Social Services. Has come under fire from across the political spectrum, from DA to Nehawu, for the shocking state of KZN health service. But the ANC Women’s League in KZN heaped praise on him for creating permanent employment for 300 nurses. Recently released his autobiography, "My Journey to Robben Island". Joined MK at a very young age, and spent time on Robben Island in the 1980s. Has served in the South Africa National Defence at rank of Brigadier General. Used to be behind Zuma, but may have switched sides by time of going to print.

Higher Education, Science and Technology

Mapulane Phillemon ‑ Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs in the fifth parliament, which forced him to oversee the sheep slaughter incident that took place at Clifton 4th Beach. Was previously municipal manager at North West Province legislature where he became known as “Mr Cash” for allegedly receiving massive kickbacks on government tenders. Arrested in 2010 for alleged corruption; all charges of fraud and corruption against him “provisionally” withdrawn. Record further marred by failure to build a promised water reservoir and water purification plant, the irregular award of tenders including a R17-million training contract, and the incomplete construction of roads. Known to be a Ramaphosa supporter.

Home Affairs Portfolio Committee

Bongani Bongo – Promoted by former president Zuma from backbencher to Minister of State Security, this despite being called before parliament’s ethics committee and accused of bribing a parliamentary official who was in charge of the Eskom inquiry. Defender of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Listed and then cleared by the ANC integrity commission. Zuma loyalist.

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee

Rosina Semenya ‑ Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries during the fifth parliament. Previously MEC for Agriculture at Limpopo provincial legislature. Served as one of the eight ANC MPs on the ad hoc committee to draft a constitutional amendment explicitly allowing for land expropriation without compensation. Signs point to her being in the Zuma camp but able to swing over to the other side.

International Relations and Cooperation Committee

Thandi Mahambehlala –appointed Deputy Minister of Communications by Jacob Zuma in March 2017. Lasted less than a year before being removed from that position by President Ramaphosa in February 2018. Her record includes a stint as former Deputy Chairperson of the ANCYL (Dullah Omar Region). One of the big spenders, she acquired a 2017 model Jaguar XF 2.0d R Sport valued at R748,941 for use in Cape Town. For Pretoria, the department spent R755, 888 on a Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 for the former deputy minister. Had Zuma’s back during the Nkandla scandal and nothing very nice to say about then Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. A staunch Zuma supporter.

Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests

Bheki Nkosi – Is this the former Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport and/or the Infrastructure Development MEC? A person by that name appears in the records around 2010, which is a long time ago, and there are many people who go by that name, including a Bheki Nkosi who was appointed the head of the Gauteng gambling board some years ago. Another MEC with the name of Bheki Nkosi has been linked to an alleged irregular relationship with an unnamed company that was doing business with the Gauteng provincial government. That Nkosi was fingered in the irregular awarding of part of a R35m tender for the driving licence testing centre and turnaround strategy and this year the Auditor-General has some questions about a couple of trips to India sponsored by an unknown company that were allegedly authorised by a Bheki Nkosi. Seems unlikely that any of these Bheki Nkosis would be the person selected to head up the ethics committee?

Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament

Peace Mabe ‑ a Member of Parliament since 2009, she was with the NCOP where she served on the Select Committees on Land and Environmental Affairs, Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, Rural Development & Land Reform and Water & Environmental Affairs, before moving to the NA where she was on the Standing Committee on Finance and chairperson of the committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Once a backbencher she came to the fore for calling DA leader Musi Maimane a “bloody bastard”. She apologised. In 2016 she was sworn in as an ANC councillor in Mogale City despite allegedly failing to resign as a Member of Parliament as required by the Constitution. However after failing in her bid to become Mogale City mayor she returned to Cape Town and reappeared in her seat at parliament. Whether or not this was legal appears to have never been resolved. A Zuma supporter.

Justice and Correctional Services

Gratitude Magwanishe – Appointed by Zuma as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, and before that Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises. He has served as a Member of Parliament since 1999. For a while held a record of sorts for making no recorded appearances at parliamentary meetings. Some consider him neutral when it comes to choosing a side. Others place him in the Ramaphosa camp.

Minerals, Resources and Energy Committee

Luzipho Sahlulile – former KwaZulu-Natal Cosatu secretary. His appointment welcomed by Cosatu and known to have an SACP background, but he is known to be close to Zuma.

Multi-Party Women’s Caucus

Kate Bilankulu – formerly represented the Tzaneen municipality in the Limpopo province. Expected to be one of parliament’s representatives on the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum. New to parliament.

Police Committee

Tina Joemat-Pettersson – former energy minister. During Zuma presidency pushed strongly for nuclear power stations. Known for the controversial sale of South Africa's crude oil reserves at bargain basement prices. A former Zuma loyalist, it appears she has since joined the Ramaphosa camp. Named on the list received by the IEC of public objections to party candidates.

Public Enterprises Committee

Khaya Magaxa – Western Cape acting ANC chairperson and SACP leader. ANC chair in the Western Cape. Decidedly a Ramaphosa man who has been publicly anti-Zuma and anti anything else that stinks of state capture.

Public Works and Infrastructure Portfolio Committee

Nolitha Ntobongwana – Provincial secretary of Eastern Cape Women’s League. Former chief whip in O R Tambo municipality. New to parliament.

Small Business Development

Violet Siwela – former speaker of the Mpumalanga Legislature for a year, and new to parliament. Joined the ANC’s NEC in 2018. Was Deputy Chairperson of the Mpumulanga ANC at the time that now Deputy President David Mabuza was Chairperson in the province. Their reappointments left the provincial ANC in trouble. Also served with him on a Provincial Task Team (PTT) set up to look into the difficulties of the party in the North West province around embattled premier, Supra Mahumapelo. When Mabuza was premier he axed Siwela as MEC of Mpumalanga Human Settlements back in 2016. There was also something about a messy estate settlement of a man who she claimed to have been married to. Zuma

Social Development Committee

Mondli Gungubele –deputy finance minister from 27 February 2018 until 25 May 2019. Rumoured to have not made it back into President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet because he was chairperson of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), or more specifically because of allegation around his submission to the PIC commission of inquiry, which was slammed by, among others, Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary general of the SA Federation of Trade Unions, who called for him to stand down. Gungubele was once Mayor of the Ekurhuleni Municipality and over the years has been head of Economic Affairs Portfolio Committee in the Gauteng provincial legislature (2004-2007), MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture (1999-2004), MEC for Health (1997-1999) and MEC for Social Development and Community Services (1994-1997) all in the Gauteng province. Known for his passion for worker's rights. A strong Ramaphosa supporter.

Sports, Arts and Culture

Beauty Dlulane – a Member of Parliament since 2003, she has served in the NCOP – where she was provincial whip of the ANC for a decade ‑ and in the NA. Was Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation from 2014 to 2019, declared quotas in South African sport a necessary tool of transformation; rallied strongly behind Castor Semenya. Previously served on the Select Committee on Public Services, the Select Committee on Land and Environmental Affairs and the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests. She was also the Chairperson for the ANCWL Gauteng as well as the ANCWL Chairperson in the Greater Soweto sub-region. Was on the regional structure of the ANC in the Eastern Cape and the provincial structure of the SACP. Dlulane was also a founding member of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) in Mthatha, Eastern Cape. Was found guilty in the Travelgate scandal of 2006, for using her travel vouchers to claim more than R200,000 from Parliament. Listed and then cleared by the ANC integrity commission. Close to Bathabile, she is considered a Zuma supporter.

State Security

At time of writing this position of chairperson still to be appointed as security vetting underway.

Standing Committee on the Auditor-General

Sakhumzi Somyo – new to parliament. From Eastern Cape legislature where he was Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC and headed E Cape provincial treasury. Dedicated his final budget speech to Madiba and pledged to “use the public purse to contribute to the achievement of Mandela’s vision”. Announced loss of citizens from E Cape has cost the province R13bn. As MEC of finance in the Eastern Cape he publicly dissociated himself from a fellow ANC member accused of stealing six cattle. His allegiance? Have to say unknown.

Standing Committee on Finance

Joe Maswanganyi – Transport minister under Zuma from March 2017, he was dropped from Ramaphosa’s Cabinet in February 2018. An MP since May 2015, before that he was Member of Limpopo Provincial Legislature for one year. Appeared before parliament’s investigation on allegations of allegations of state capture at Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) when he was minister. In 2017, while the ANCYL welcomed his appointment as Transport Minister, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) called on him to resign after a strike that caused havoc in the Tshwane area. A former Limpopo ANC secretary, and member of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature. Consider him staunchly pro-Zuma.

Standing Committee on Public Accounts

Mkhuleko Hlengwa – Inkatha Freedom Party and former Member of the committee. Probably the only one to be disappointed by this appointment was the DA, who had its eye on this prize. SCOPA traditionally is the only committee to have a non-ANC chairperson.

Tourism Committee

Supra Mahumapelo – member of Zuma-supporting Premiers’ League, forced to resign after violent protests throughout the province calling for him to step down as premier. Ugly court battle after Ramaphosa appointed new premier. Mahumapelo challenged ANC NEC decision to step down. Named in the Zondo Commission Inquiry about a contract of R400m between SA Express and the North West government when he was premier. Zuma loyalist through and through, to the point of supporting the former president at Zuma’s fraud case. Listed and then cleared by the ANC integrity commission.

Trade and Industry Committee

Duma Nkosi – Former Ekurhuleni mayor. Served at the Economic Development Department (EDD). Was a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2001. First President of the South African Commercial Catering Workers Union (SACCAWU) where he won award for Exceptional Leadership, Outstanding Commitment and Lasting Contribution to SACCAWU and the Working People of South Africa. Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), Gauteng. A clear Ramaphosa supporter.

Transport Committee

Mosebenzi Zwane – Zuma’s Minister of Mineral Resources from 2015 until 2018, at which point Ramaphosa fired him. He is now back in parliament, thanks to the efforts of the party’s SG. Known for his links to the Guptas. Created the Mining Charter but failed to consult key stakeholders. In his last days in Cabinet, skipped several key parliamentary briefings, sparking the ire of MPs. Implicated at the state capture commission of inquiry, fingered in the Vrede dairy farm financial scandal, linked to the Gupta-linked Tegeta acquisition of the Optimum coal mine on the back of Eskom pre-paying almost R700-million for yet to be delivered coal. Former Free State agriculture MEC, said to be linked to the inviting of Gupta wedding guests to land at Waterkloof Air Force base. Listed and then cleared by the ANC integrity commission. Zuma loyalist. Gupta acolyte.

Women, Youth and People with Disabilities

Nhlanhla Ncube – another newbie, without a paper trail. Who is this person?


Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Monday, 08 July 2019 20:25

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