Disgraced former higher education deputy minister Mduduzi Manana has remained defiant in the face of calls for him to step down as an MP, saying he is looking forward to his new role in parliament.
In an interview with the Sunday Times this week, Manana made it clear he would not resign from the National Assembly despite threats of legal action against parliament from a lobby group opposing the abuse of women, should the legislature fail to take stern action against him.
Manana quit his position under a cloud a fortnight ago after admitting to assaulting a woman at a Johannesburg nightclub. He is facing criminal charges in this regard.
Manana said he was staying put as an ANC backbencher and looked forward to whatever role party bosses were preparing to assign him.
“I’m still waiting for the party leadership [to give me direction]. I started as a member of parliament. I sat as a member of parliament for three years [before becoming a deputy minister]. This is a deployment, and wherever I’m sent by the party I will serve accordingly,” said Manana.
“I will serve anywhere where the party sends me to, any portfolio committee. If they send me to rural development I will serve there, I will take instruction from the party.”
Manana said he was “consulting widely” and was dealing with the “underlying issues” that drove him to assault a woman.
“I am seeking professional help to deal with whatever underlying issue that caused me to act in the manner that I did and I’m obviously participating fully in the criminal justice system so that indeed the law is served and both myself and the victim at some point are able to live in harmony and coexist going forward,” he said.
Manana refused to discuss the incident.
The Women’s Legal Centre has asked parliament’s joint ethics committee to initiate proceedings against Manana, saying his conduct was in breach of the code of ethical conduct for MPs.
The NGO has threatened to haul the legislature to court if it fails to act against Manana.
Advocate Bronwyn Pithey, of the centre, said it was “a most telling indictment of his flagrant disregard for the constitutional values of South Africa, let alone the criminal nature of the conduct in question”.
Pithey said the complaint to the ethics committee, submitted in terms of clause 2 of the code of conduct, outlined that Manana has “acted in a manner that is manifestly inconsistent with his oath of office; and violated the standards of ethical conduct as set forth in the code of ethical conduct disclosure”.
Pithey said the registrar of parliament’s ethics committee, Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara, has acknowledged the complaint. He has seven days to present it to MPs serving on the ethics committee.
We want him dismissed. That’s what we’re calling for … in terms of the rules, the National Assembly can dismiss him
Bronwyn Pithey, Women’s Legal Centre
Vanara had not responded to requests for comment at the time of going to print.
Manana is also facing internal disciplinary proceedings in the ANC, after its national working committee resolved that action should be taken against him.
But ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa has declined to indicate when disciplinary proceedings against Manana will be instituted.
“When the matter is pronounced to be before the disciplinary committee we don’t make further comments about it until it is finalised. The decision [to discipline Manana] has not changed,” said Kodwa.
He declined to comment on the Women’s Legal Centre’s calls for Manana to be removed from parliament.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu also declined to speak about Manana’s future as an MP.
“We will tell him, but not through you the media,” said Mthembu.
He said he wasn’t aware of any submissions calling for Manana to be fired.
Pithey said if Manana was not axed from parliament, the Women’s Legal Centre would challenge the matter in the high court.
“If we jump the gun a little bit, which I don’t want to do, we have recommended dismissal. If the sanction is less than dismissal we would have to consider our legal options there as well in terms of bringing an application. We want him dismissed. That’s what we’re calling for. We believe that in terms of the rules, the National Assembly can dismiss him. It’s well within the rules,” said Pithey.
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