At least two current MPs will be investigated for State C…
National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says parliament’s joint ethics committee is set to investigate possible code of conduct breaches against at least two current lawmakers for capture benefits of the state by Bosasa.
“The Joint Committee on Ethics and Membership Interests…has been tasked with investigating possible breaches of the ethical code of conduct and the disclosure of membership interests for assembly and permanent council members. This only applies to current members who were in parliament when alleged transgressions took place,” the president said in a letter to chief whips and political party representatives on May 13.
The letter refers to Part Three of the State Capture Commission Report, which was released in March 2022 and focuses on Bosasa-related corruption. He recommended that further action be taken against individuals, including criminal investigations to act under codes of conduct.
Although the President’s letter does not name anyone, the legal opinion dated March 22 that was sent to all political parties in Parliament identifies for review by the Joint Ethics Committee the Speaker of the Chamber of the National Assembly, Cedric Frolick, who was recently elected co-chair of the joint KwaZulu-Natal ad hoc committee on floods, and Winnie Ngwenya, a former ANC MP on the Corrections Committee and now National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegate.
The letter recalls that the national legislature’s research unit processes published reports from the State Capture Commission. And the rules committee would meet “at the appropriate time” to determine how best to deal with the entire State Capture Commission report, once filed with an implementation plan by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
This “waiting until full presidential filing” was the approach until early May – even though the president had already submitted the third part of the report by State Capture Commission Chairman Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
“In addition to the implementation plan that I will submit to Parliament, I understand that Parliament will need to engage in its own process on recommendations that directly affect it, and share this part of the report and any other part of it. with similar content to help in this difficult work,” Ramaphosa wrote on March 16.
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The fact that Parliament’s Joint Ethics Committee has now been asked to look into breaches of the code of conduct is largely due to the DA’s deputy chief whip, Siviwe Gwarube.
After raising the need on at least two formal occasions for national legislatures to take action, Gwarube also sought the legal opinion that effectively paved the way for parliamentary action, at least within the framework of the code of conduct – for the moment.
It emerged during the May 5 programming committee, where the official ruling ANC line continued to be wait-and-see until the full presidential filing, which is now due in October.
Gwarube said on Sunday May 15 that Mapisa-Nqakula had “blocked” the process of action as he sat on this legal opinion for weeks.
“The argument to wait for the president can only be seen as a delaying tactic and not in the interest of transparency and accountability,” she said in a statement. statement. “Now that we have obtained this legal opinion and that it clearly indicates what Parliament’s oversight bodies must do, we will ensure that this work begins immediately. We cannot sit idly by while there are MPs, members of the executive and even presidents who are accused of facilitating state capture and who are not being dealt with by parliament.
On Sunday 15 May, Parliament confirmed that the Joint Ethics Committee would investigate possible breaches of the Parliamentary Code of Conduct.
In a text message, parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo said: ‘This only applies to current members, who were in parliament when alleged transgressions took place.’
No action on Mantashe
Excluded are former ANC MP Vincent Smith, who is on trial for Bosasa-related fraud and corruption, and former minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who remains at the ANC’s Luthuli House. In a signal of waning fortune, however, she was recently replaced on the ANC’s National Disciplinary Appeals Committee.
This is confirmed in the parliamentary legal opinion. And although the State Capture commission recommended further investigations against Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, the parliamentary legal opinion says no action by parliament is possible as it was at the time general secretary of the ANC, not a deputy.
He is silent on Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa against whom the State Capture Commission report recommends further steps in its “beholden” relationship with EOH.
Everyone named in the State Capture Commission report dismissed personal benefit. Mantashe and Kodwa have also publicly stated that they are reviewing the State Capture Commission report.
As for Deputy Defense Minister Thabang Makwetla, who was sanctioned in March 2019 for not disclosing Bosasa-related security upgrades that he said he reimbursed, nothing prevented Parliament from examine whether he had misled the national legislature, according to the legal opinion.
It is still unclear whether the fourth part of the State Capture Commission report is already in Parliament. And, if so, would the Joint Ethics Committee considerations extend to Transportation Committee Chairman Mosebenzi Zwane for his role in State Capture as the Free State hosting MEC in the the asbestos saga. As the National Minister for Mineral Resources, he cannot face any action by Parliament on this, given the Mantashe-related argument. The legal opinion did not address this because it is dated March 22, well before the publication of Part Four on April 29.
According to Mapisa-Nqaukla’s May 13 letter, no deadline has been set for the Joint Ethics Committee to determine whether the identified lawmakers should face disciplinary hearings. If such measures are instituted, no time limit exists to conclude them.
If found guilty, the maximum penalties are the removal of one month’s salary and/or parliamentary privileges such as participation in sittings, and/or a reprimand which may be written or verbal, also in front of all other parliamentarians. from the room.
There is no guarantee of a guilty verdict by Parliament’s Joint Ethics Committee. This emerged when the committee exonerated ANC MP and former health minister Zweli Mkhize in the R150 million Digital Vibes communications tender. The joint ethics committee ruled that her son did not fall under the definition of an immediate family member, and the home renovations were handled by an email that was not in the name of the minister at the time.
Read here: Mkhize cleared of Digital Vibes wrongdoing – ethics committee uses letter but not spirit of code of conduct and here: By choosing Zweli Mkhize over SA, the ethics committee fails the test of morality, integrity and responsibility.
The Special Investigative Unit proceeds to recover the improperly earned sums, and the Hawks investigate criminal charges against Mkhize and others.
While the first steps to address state capture issues involving current lawmakers are underway, it’s too early to tell what may happen. Or not.
The final installment of the State Capture Commission’s report will also include a report on parliamentary oversight which may well give Parliament more work to do. DM