Parliament’s shame hung out to dry

Image courtesy stock.xchnge (KillR-B)

Image courtesy stock.xchnge (KillR-B)

Several MPs are repeat offenders when it comes to cocking a snook at making required annual declarations of their financial interests to Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

The Public Service Accountability Monitor (Psam) in Grahamstown has identified the repeat offenders and is demanding disciplinary action.

After extending the deadline several times, the committee met in October last year and resolved to publish a list of offenders’ names and political party membership in Parliament’s ATCs (Announcements, Tablings, Committees).

It also declared that this time round that the errant MPs should receive a public reprimand.

There was a serial non-submission offender among them, former Communications Minister, Dina Pule. The committee “noted her suspension from Parliament had taken effect from August 21 2013 and expired on the October 8 2013. As Hon Pule was suspended, the Committee has granted her a further two weeks from the October 9 2013 to submit her disclosure.”

A report tabled in Parliament on July 31 of last year found that Pule had “willfully misled” Parliament’s ethics committee by denying her romantic relationship with a man who allegedly made millions from sponsorship deals with her former department.

Jay Kruuse, the Director of Psam, says a mere reprimand “is not sufficient a deterrent.”

In 2012, the percentages of errant members of each political party relative to the overall vote of 400, amounted to: ANC 20.1% of ANC members (holding 66% of the vote), Cope 40% (7.5%), IFP 16.7 (4.5%), and, lastly, Azapo’s sole MP missed the deadline.

In 2013 the figures were: ANC 18.2% of ANC members (holding 66% of the vote), Cope 23.3% (7.5%), IFP 5.6% (4.5%), DA 1.5% (17%). The PAC’s sole MP missed the deadline. The PAC holds 0.25% of the vote.

After holding an investigation, the Ethics Committee can impose the following penalties:

  • A reprimand
  • A fine not exceeding thirty days’ salary
  • A reduction of salary or allowances for a period not exceeding fifteen days
  • The suspension of privileges or a member’s right to a seat in Parliamentary debates or committees for a period not exceeding fifteen days

Kruuse says the penalties are a mere slap on the wrist and, until there are consequences, certain MPs will continue displaying a cavalier approach to Parliament’s rules.

He told the committee: “In the absence of an adequate explanation for their repeated failure to disclose their interest on time, implicated MPs should receive a harsher sanction.”

A failure by the Ethics Committee to act firmly against MPs was “not only likely to perpetuate the reoccurrence of this practice, but will also continue to damage the public profile and perception of MPs, and parliament more broadly,” he said.

According to the Ethics Committee, Dina Pule met the extended October 23 deadline and the record is accessible on the Parliamentary website.

Confirmed, repeat offenders are Memela TC (ANC-NCOP), Madlopha CQ (ANC), Mapisa-Nqakula NN (ANC), Ntshiqela P (Cope), Chikunga S (ANC), Saal G (ANC), Martins BAD (ANC), Sibande MP (ANC-NCOP), Moepeng JK (ANC), Mtshali (ANC), Sogoni EM (ANC), Nhanha MA (Cope), Gona MF (ANC).

The committee says three names reappear on both lists, but it is still trying to verify if these are the same people. They are Mandela Z (ANC), Motshekga M (ANC), and Nonkonyane M (ANC).




today in print