Western Cape legislature Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer has recused herself from an appeals committee investigating Speaker Masizole Mnqasela after the African National Congress (ANC) in the legislature took issue with her appointment.
Provincial legislature spokesperson Matthys Odendal told News24 "the Office of the Secretary earlier today (Thursday) received correspondence that Deputy Speaker Beverley Schäfer has recused herself from the Appeals Committee as it relates to the matter of Speaker... Masizole Mnqasela".
Schäfer was appointed to the committee that will probe Mnqasela's failure to declare a family trust. The committee was established to look into an appeal submitted by Mnqasela after he was found to have been in breach of the code of conduct for failing to disclose the trust.
Mnqasela established the trust in 2018, but failed to disclose it in the disclosure forms he submitted in 2019, 2020 and 2021.
The conduct committee was provided with copies of relevant disclosures and documents which showed Mnqasela's interest in various companies, including a company that is a trustee of the Mnqasela Family Trust. The committee recommended that Mnqasela's privileges be suspended for seven days and that he be reprimanded and handed a fine not exceeding his 30-day salary value.
It said the breach was a serious offence, especially for the speaker, the legislature's highest office-bearer and custodian of the code of conduct.
The ANC rejected Schäfer's appointment to the appeals committee, citing a conflict of interest.
In a letter, ANC MPL Khalid Sayed stated that Schäfer should not be part of the appeals process by Mnqasela "given the cloud hanging over the head of the Deputy Speaker" (Schäfer).
Schäfer faces a probe by the conduct committee after it emerged that she refused to downgrade her state-funded luxury BMW vehicle after her term as MEC ended.
Mnqasela, on the other hand, was suspended from all Democratic Alliance-related activities pending an investigation relating to alleged fraud and excessive spending.
Sayed said the ANC was exposing the DA's hypocrisy.
"They knew that the Deputy Speaker is conflicted, therefore, we are hearing now that she is recusing herself. She should not have been proposed for membership in the first place.
"As per media reports, we certainly hope that the conduct committee will be finalising its report into the Deputy Speaker soon because it would seem that that matter has been dragging on for too long," he said.
The African Christian Democratic Party's Ferlon Christians has been appointed chairperson of the appeals committee. Christians did not want to comment on the matter.
Mnqasela's office referred media queries to the chair of the appeals committee.
Schäfer's spokesperson, Natalie Jardine, told News24 they had no further comment.
"The Deputy Speaker has not been found guilty of any violation of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament Code of Conduct Act, as the process of investigation by the Conduct Committee has not been completed," Jardine told News24 earlier this week.
The speaker was exercising his right of appeal after being found guilty by the conduct committee.
"Similarly, the deputy speaker will be afforded the same opportunity when the conduct committee report has been tabled in the House, and the right of appeal is also afforded to her, should she also be found guilty."