Parliament has yet again been drawn into an internal factional fight of the Pan Africanist Congress as two of the party’s senior leaders fight over the party’s sole seat in the National Assembly.
The main issue is the control of the funds the party gets from Parliament.
The PAC says it expelled” its president Luthando Mbinda, who is also its only MP, because he was persistently asking questions about expenditure, according to PAC national spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe.
“He was perpetually harassing our treasurer with questions about party funds, consistently asking about all the money and financial transactions of the PAC. He wanted to control party funds,” said Mokgatlhe. He was charged, but didn't attend the disciplinary hearing and allegedly labelled the national disciplinary committee a kangaroo court, according to Mokgatlhe.
“It’s parliamentary funds!” said Mbinda summing up the root of the party’s tensions.
The PAC president claimed that mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds by the party, and its leaders who did not want to account for it, resulted in the current divisions.
“They are correct, I had been requesting financial reports for more than a year and I am not getting them,” he told City Press.
“I am the only one who is an MP and yet I had no access to documents about funds or the funds themselves,” said Mbinda. He said this had made it impossible for him to sign a declaratory form in Parliament [accounting for PAC funds] because he had no idea what was happening to party funds.
It started earlier this year when he wrote an email to all national executive committee members suggesting that a forensic audit be done to probe the use of party funds.
He claimed he was expelled by those leaders who didn’t want to account, and also accused PAC secretary-general Narius Moloto of undermining NEC resolutions and disbanding structures of the PAC without consultation.
“We suspended Moloto on June 11 and they in turn ‘expelled’ me,” said Mbinda.
However, Mokgathle claimed Mbinda suspended Moloto and PAC national chairman Phillip Dhlamini after he was expelled from the party.
Mbinda described it as mischievous for his PAC comrades to claim he no longer represented the party in Parliament.
“I cannot be replaced. You can only replace someone who is dead or who has resigned. I am not dead and I can’t resign. So, they say they have expelled me; they can’t do that,” he said.
Mbinda will abstain from today’s vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma, saying that a change of president will not benefit the poor. Distancing the party from Mbinda’s stance, Mokgathle said the PAC had no position in the motion against Zuma because it was currently not represented in Parliament.
Parliament confirmed that it had received conflicting correspondences from both the secretary-general (Moloto) and the president of the PAC (Mbinda) regarding Mbinda’s withdrawal from the National Assembly.
Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the institution recognised both leaders as people it communicates with, and both jointly had the authority to correspond with the institution regarding changes in the party’s parliamentary membership.
“Ordinarily Parliament would immediately act on a request where there is concurrence from joint signatories. However, the signatories in this instance are in disagreement and have forwarded conflicting correspondences asking the speaker to act,” he said.
Mothapo said Parliament was unable to determine which correspondence to effect, unless the matter was resolved through a judicial process.
Mbinda was the third PAC president whose parliamentary seat is contested by the party over the past few years and if the PAC successfully expelled him, he would be the third to suffer that fate since the dawn of democracy.