South Africa

PARLIAMENT

At least two current MPs to be investigated for State Capture ethics violations

From left: Former Minister of Health, Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, visits Charlotte Maxeke Hospital on April 20, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo) | Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa visits Thembokwezi Square in Khayelitsha on July 20, 2021 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/ER Lombard) | Africa National Congress (ANC) MP Cedrick Frolick testifies before the Zondo Commission on October 02, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images/Papi Morake) | Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla. (Photo: Twitter)

At least two current MPs are likely to be investigated by Parliament’s joint ethics committee in connection with alleged State Capture benefits from Bosasa.

Parliament’s joint ethics committee is set to probe possible contraventions of the code of conduct against at least two current legislators for State Capture benefits from Bosasa, according to National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

“The joint committee on ethics and members interests… has been requested to investigate possible contraventions of the code of ethical conduct and disclosure of members’ interests for assembly and permanent council members. This applies only to current members who were serving in Parliament when any alleged transgressions took place,” the Speaker said in a letter to chief whips and political party reps on 13 May.

The letter refers to Part Three of the State Capture Commission report, which was released in March 2022 and focuses on corruption linked to Bosasa. It recommended further steps be taken against individuals, including criminal probes to action under codes of conduct.

Although the Speaker’s letter does not name anyone, the legal opinion dated 22 March that was sent to all political parties in Parliament identifies for joint ethics committee scrutiny National Assembly House Chairperson Cedric Frolick, who was recently elected co-chairperson of the joint KwaZulu-Natal flood ad hoc committee, and Winnie Ngwenya, former ANC MP on the correctional services committee and now National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegate.

The letter reiterates that the national legislature’s research unit is processing published State Capture Commission reports. And the rules committee would meet “at the opportune time” to determine how best to process the whole State Capture Commission report, once tabled with an implementation plan by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This “wait until the full presidential tabling” was the approach until earlier in May — even though the President had already submitted Part Three of the report by State Capture Commission chairperson, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

“In addition to the implementation plan I will be submitting to Parliament, I appreciate that Parliament will need to engage in its own process on recommendations that affect it directly, and share this portion of the report and any other portions thereof with similar content to assist in this difficult work,” Ramaphosa wrote on 16 March.

Fuel thieves siphon off millions from Mpumalanga Eskom power station

Stalling

That Parliament’s joint ethics committee has now been requested to look into contraventions of the code of conduct is in no small measure because of DA Deputy Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube.

Having raised the need on at least two official occasions for the national legislatures to take steps, Gwarube also requested the legal opinion that effectively paved the way for parliamentary action, at least under the code of conduct — for now.

It emerged in the 5 May programming committee where the official governing ANC line continued to be one of wait and see until the full presidential tabling, which is now expected in October.

Gwarube said on Sunday, 15 May, that Mapisa-Nqakula had been “stalling” the process of taking action while sitting 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 interests of transparency and accountability,” she said in a statement. Now that we have obtained this legal opinion and it states clearly what ought to be done by Parliament’s oversight bodies, we will ensure that this work begins immediately. We cannot sit idly while there are MPs, members of the executive and even presiding officers who are alleged to have facilitated State Capture and are not dealt with by Parliament.”

On Sunday, 15 May, Parliament confirmed that the joint ethics committee would probe possible contraventions of the Parliamentary code of conduct

In a text message, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said: “This applies only to current members, who were serving in Parliament when any 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 counts, and former Cabinet minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who remains at the ANC’s Luthuli House. In a signal of waning fortunes, however, she was recently replaced on the ANC national disciplinary appeals committee

This is confirmed in the parliamentary legal opinion. And although the State Capture commission has recommended further investigations against Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, the parliamentary legal opinion says no action by Parliament is possible because he was ANC secretary-general at the time, not an MP.  

It is silent on Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa, against whom the State Capture Commission report recommends further steps over his “beholden” relationship with EOH.

All those named in the State Capture Commission report have dismissed personal benefit. Mantashe and Kodwa have also publicly said they are taking the State Capture Commission report on review.

Regarding Deputy Defence Minister Thabang Makwetla, who was sanctioned in March 2019 for not disclosing Bosasa-linked security upgrades that he has said he repaid, nothing was stopping Parliament from looking into whether he had misled the national legislature, according to the legal opinion.

It remains unclear whether Part Four of the State Capture Commission report is already with Parliament. And, if it is, whether joint ethics committee considerations would extend to transport committee chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane for his role in State Capture as Free State housing MEC in the asbestos saga. As national mineral resources minister, he may not face any steps from Parliament on this, given the argument related to Mantashe. The legal opinion did not deal with this as it is dated 22 March, well before Part Four was released on 29 April.

No guarantees

From Mapisa-Nqaukla’s 13 May letter, no timeframes arose for the joint ethics committee to determine if identified lawmakers should face disciplinary hearings. If such measures are instituted, no timeframes exist for concluding these. 

If found guilty, the maximum sanctions are docking of a month’s salary and/or parliamentary privileges such as attending sittings, and/or a reprimand that can be written or verbal, also in front of all other parliamentarians in the House.

No guarantees exist of a guilty finding by Parliament’s joint ethics committee. That 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 decided his son did not fall under the definition of a close family member, and the home renovations were handled through an email not in the then minister’s name.

Read here: Mkhize cleared of Digital Vibes wrongdoing — ethics committee uses letter but not spirit of code of conduct and here: In choosing Zweli Mkhize over SA, ethics committee fails moral, integrity and accountability test.

The Special Investigating Unit is proceeding to recoup irregularly gained monies and the Hawks are investigating criminal charges against Mkhize and others.

With initial steps to deal with State Capture-related matters involving current lawmakers now under way, it’s too early to tell what may happen. Or not.

The final instalment of the State Capture Commission report will include a report also on parliamentary oversight that may well give Parliament more to do. DM

 

Gallery

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 6

  • These disgusting excuses for human beings should be shaking in their boots for fear of being jailed for the rest of their lives (or worse). But instead they just carry on as before. To quote our very own president, they “fear fokol”.

    As is the precedent for decades now thanks to the nest of cockroaches known as the ANC, they might get a slap on the wrist and sent on their merry way. My confidence that justice will be timeously served is hovering around 0%.

  • endless circles of denial, lack of action, following process , yabba,yabba,yabba and a few fall guys who are obviously not in favour

  • Parliament won’t do anything because of cadre deployment Hopefully the law will catch up with all of them and orange overalls will result
    Maybe we should start crowdfunding for the NPA to employ more people because parliament will make sure they don’t get more money

  • “That Parliament’s joint ethics committee has now been requested to look into contraventions of the code of conduct is in no small measure because of DA Deputy Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube.”

    Again great work by the DA. It’s time the naysayers started giving them some ❤️

  • Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted