SNOWY Kennedy-Monyemoratho, that forgettable chairperson of the Limpopo Legislature Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), must count herself lucky that she is not a professional law enforcement officer. I bet the poor ANC MPL would be languishing in jail by now, for defeating the ends of justice, if sentiments expressed by her own committee members, during a debate in the legislature last week, are anything to go by.
To say they have no confidence in Kennedy-Monyemoratho is an understatement. They made it clear to all and sundry who cared to listen, including members of the media, that they believe their chairperson has sold her soul to the executive in exchange for patronage at the expense of Scopa’s constitutional mandate.
They labelled her anything and everything from useless and toothless to begging for tenders, subscribing to politics of the stomach and reducing Scopa into a sweetheart committee. “Scopa is toothless and the chairperson of Scopa is contributing to this toothlessness. “The present chairperson of Scopa must get a lesson from the previous chairpersons on what it means to be a chairperson,” yelled EFF MPL Jossey Buthane. “This would not change because the leadership of Scopa in this province is subscribing to politics of the stomach and begs for tenders.”
ANC Scopa members Rudolph Phala and Elias Nong, as well as their DA counterpart Langa Bodlani concurred with Buthane but for different reasons. The four’s gripe was what they saw as Kennedy-Monyemoratho’s failure to hold Premier Stan Mathabatha’s administration accountable, causing or contributing to its three-year period of regression in audit outcomes between 2013 and 2016. During this period, Limpopo’s financial affairs nosedived in an unprecedented regression within three years.
As the wheels came off, the province failed to get a single clean audit; several of its unqualified reports collapsed into qualified overnight; saw its municipalities degenerate into the worst run entities; slipped from the middle of the table to second last in matric results while its residents became the poorest in the country. Within 36 months Mathabatha, who took over the province on a ticket of cleaning his predecessor Cassel Mathale’s mess, effectively made the same man who collapsed Limpopo in 2011 look like an angel or an administrator par excellence.
Watching Buthane, Phala, Nong and Bodlani humiliate Kennedy-Monyemoratho was sad but not surprising at all. The spectacle quickly reminded me of a recent encounter my colleague Russel Molefe and I had with her in July this year. As is the norm in the industry, especially between the media and parliamentary committee chairpersons, we requested a meeting to discuss Scopa’s work and programmes with a view to reporting to the public about progress in holding the executive accountable.
To our surprise, Kennedy-Monyemoratho completely acted out of character for a Scopa chairperson. She was defensive about issues, cagey with information, claimed not to have a single document and even went as far as trying to mislead us about the financial affairs of the Limpopo government. She painted a rosy picture of its finances and encouraged us to publish her unsubstantiated claims. Suspicious of her motives, we decided not to run the “story”.
Thinking that Kennedy-Monyemoratho may have withheld the documents because they had not yet been adopted by the legislature (to make them public documents), I again approached her after the sitting last week. To my surprise, she again refused to share, this time citing loyalty to the
ANC government and concern about giving the opposition ammunition to attack her party.
This is where the problem is. Kennedy-Monyemoratho either has a limited understanding of the role of a Scopa Chairperson in a democratic country, or her definition of party loyalty is twisted. Whichever it is, it’s just bad and an indictment on her. A Scopa Chairperson is there to hold the executive accountable to ensure they deliver services to the electorate and manage public finances in a prudent manner. Equally, loyalty to the ANC requires its deployees to hold its elected government accountable so it could deliver on its election promises and thus have a good story to tell –not the other way round.
For a province that has produced selfless men and women of integrity as Scopa leaders – including Phala himself, Rob Tooley and Pitsi Moloto — Kennedy-Monyemoratho’s conduct has really shamed and brought that committee into disrepute. She seems to take pride in betraying the good work her counterparts across the country are doing in holding the executive accountable; selfless leaders like Scopa Chairperson in the National Assembly Themba Godi and many others.
Leaders like Kennedy-Monyemoratho are a reason why services often fail to reach the poor while their elected representatives are fluffing their way around. She is clearly lucky she is not a professional cop. In law enforcement agency circles, defeating the ends of justice is not treated as a laughing matter.
Piet Rampedi is editor of African Times editor.