Revised Code of Conduct for MP's, 2011 Committee Annual Report

Ethics and Members' Interest

06 March 2012
Chairperson: Prof B Turok (ANC) (National Assembly) and Mr B Mashile (ANC) (NCOP)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee had planned to discuss the revised Code of Ethics for Members. However, the Committee postponed the discussion as some parties had not considered the document. One of the co-chairpersons underlined the importance of the report and it was agreed that this document needed to be referred to the two presiding officers so that it could be incorporated into the parliamentary processes and receive the necessary attention.

The 2011 Committee Annual Report was adopted after a brief discussion. Members sought clarity on whether the Travelgate scandal was supposed to be handled by the Joint Ethics Committee or the Disciplinary Committee. Another concerns revolved around the fact that some Members overlooked the Ethics Committee and simply lodged complaints with the Public Protector.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
Prof Turok suggested that the 2011 Committee Annual Report should be included as part of the agenda and asked Members if they had any further additions.

Members agreed with the suggestion and did not provide any

Prof Turok urged Members to arrive on time for meetings.

Revised Draft code of Ethics
Ms
Fazella Mahomed, Registrar of Ethics and Members Interests, explained that she had forwarded copies of the revised Draft Code of Ethics to all Members.

Prof Turok asked whether the different parties had gone through the Draft Code.

Ms D Kohler- Barnard (DA) replied that the Chief Whip of her political party had the report, but she was not sure whether her party’s response was ready. She then said that she would go to her whip after the meeting and enquire about the comments on the Draft Code.

Prof Turok told Members that the Draft Code was very important because it underlined the work of Parliament. It was not merely a technical document but it was also political in nature.

Mr Mashile mentioned that he would speak to the two presiding officers so that the Draft code could be incorporated into the parliamentary processes and receive the necessary attention. The Co- Chairpersons would try to enlist the audience of the House Chairpersons and the House Speaker.

2011 Committee Annual Report
Ms Mohamed briefed the Committee about the contents of the 2011 Committee Annual Report. It contained information about the main activities for the Committee in the past year. She highlighted that there were 31 allegations which were concluded by the Committee. Those who were found to have breached the Code were required to attend a compulsory workshop. All those Members and attended the workshop.

Ms Mohamed mentioned that the 2011 Members Register was adopted and all the Members had complied, review of the code and the different conferences attended by the Members of Parliament. She further reported that there had been allegations of corruption against the former Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Sicelo Shiceka. That matter was handed to the Public Protector and her findings were handed to the Committee

Mr Mashile praised Ms Mohamed for the brief synopsis of the report and invited Members to comment or make corrections.

Ms Dreyer noted that the Travelgate scandal that was supposed to be part of number item three of the report, but the matter was regarded to be outside the scope of the Committee. It was then handed to the Disciplinary Committee. She then enquired about the developments around the German Study Tour. She also enquired about the person who had attended the good Governance Conference that was organised by the Public protector.

Mr Mashile asked Ms Mohamed to confirm to the Committee whether the Travelgate issue was really referred to the Disciplinary Committee or not.

Ms Mohamed recalled that Mr Davidson had raised this matter previously and was advised that he should take the matter to the Disciplinary Committee.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that “as far as she could remember” the matter involved Members who owed money to Parliament. Some members paid back the money they owed, while others had paid the money for some time and stopped paying. Travelgate was about money that was received and was not declared and should therefore be dealt with by the Ethics Committee. She could not recall the time when that the matter was referred to another Committee.

Mr Mashile concurred with Ms Mohamed.

Mr Mlangeni said that the matter was outside the scope of the Committee, therefore the matter was discussed and resolved.

Prof Turok suggested that the matter should be shelved for the next Committee meeting. He then urged that Members should not go straight to the Public Protector while the Committee had enough powers to deal with matters related to ethics.

Ms Dreyer reminded the Committee that she had not received any feedback regarding the attendance of the Public Protector Conference.

Prof Turok replied that he attended the conference with Mr Mashile in their capacity as Co- Chairpersons of the Committee. The conference was very fruitful and the Committee deserved to get a report on this event. That would be done at later date.

Mr Mlangeni moved for the adoption of the 2011 Annual report and Ms Mabe seconded the motion. The 2011 annual report was adopted.

Mr Mashile then asked Members of the public and media were asked to vacate the room because the next item on the agenda was closed.

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