DA to refer ministers who received money from FS asbestos-businessman to Parliament’s Ethics Committee

Blackhead Consulting director Edwin Sodi at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Braamfontein last week. Picture: Neil McCartney

The party says if the MPs’ dealings with Sodi were irreproachable, they would have had no qualms declaring these payments.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said that it will submit a complaint to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests over the failure of ministers and deputy ministers to declare money they received from businessman Edwin Sodi.

This after the businessman who was involved in an alleged asbestos looting scheme in the Free State, Sodi gave testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday on the payments he made to Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi, the Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa, and the Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Pinky Kekana, among others, in the period between 2013 and 2019.

Sodi told the commission that a R6.5 million payment which was referenced ‘Zweli Mkhize’ was made at a time when the health minister was the ANC treasurer-general and that the money was specifically for the governing party.

On the payment he made to Nxesi, Sodi told Zondo the payment was for “underprivileged” children.

Sodi said two payments were made to Nxesi, which included one of R15,000 which was directly paid to a school of the underprivileged at the minister’s request.

“The second payment was R30,000 for accommodation, also for underprivileged kids which was paid to the institution.”

Sodi told the commission that he had made payments to Kodwa in his personal capacity before he joined government, when he was still working for the ANC.

When asked about the payments to Kekana, Sodi said she is a friend, a person he considers to be a sister.

READ MORE: ‘Payments to ANC, other govt officials not strange, fraudulent,’ says businessman in FS housing saga

DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone said the party “ran an extensive check of Parliament’s register of members’ interests for the period these payments were made” and found that “none of the individuals mentioned” had “declared such payments”.

“This is a direct contravention of Section 5 of Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests regarding Conflict of Financial or Business Interests. Section 5.1.1 clearly states that a member must “resolve any financial or business conflict of interest in which he or she is involved in his or her capacity as a public representative, in favour of the public interest; and 5.1.2 always declare such interest, and where appropriate, the Member should recuse himself or herself from any forum considering or deciding on the matter”,” Mazzone said.

She said if the members of parliament’s (MPs’) dealings with Sodi “were irreproachable, they would have had no qualms declaring these payments”.

“As it stands, none of the excuses they can come up with will suffice. The Ethics Committee is duty-bound to investigate this matter and should do so urgently. And the DA expects more than a mere slap on the wrist – as is the current trend – for these perpetrators of dark deeds if South Africa is ever to wipe corruption completely from its slate.”

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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