ATC160518: Report of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests as agreed at its meeting held on 18 May 2016 at M315
REPORT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON ETHICS AND MEMBERS’ INTERESTS AS AGREED AT ITS MEETING HELD ON 18 MAY 2016 AT M315.
REPORT (1) ON COMPLAINT PERTAINING TO MEMBERS’ VOTES IN REPLY TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AD HOC COMMITTEE ON THE REPORT OF THE MINISTER OF POLICE
The Office of the Registrar received a complaint dated 7 April 2016 which requested that the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests investigate a complaint pertaining to all members (See attached schedule of Members) who voted in favour of the Report of Ad Hoc Committee on the Report of Minister of Police; in reply to recommendations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Report by the President regarding security upgrades at Nkandla Private Residence of the President (as tabled in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports of 7 August 2015, p 3034).
It is alleged that because the Constitutional Court ruled in the matter of the EFF v Speaker of the NA and others (2016) ZACC11 that the resolution was invalid, consequently all members who voted in favour of the resolution are complicit in flouting the Constitution. Consequently, the vote in favour of the resolution is a breach of Clause 4 as set out in the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure for Assembly and Permanent Council Members (Code).
On the instruction of the Chairperson, a legal opinion was sought from the Parliamentary Legal Services. The legal opinion concludes that the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests have no jurisdiction to interrogate a decision of the House, or to question how individual Members voted on a specific question, or to hold Members responsible for their vote.
As the Committee has no jurisdiction to interrogate a decision of the House, the Committee is unable consider the complaint against all the Members named in the attached schedule.
REPORT (2) ON THE COMPLAINT AGAINST MINISTER N NHLEKO AND MINISTER T NXESI
On 16 February 2016, the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests (“the Committee”) received a complaint in which it is alleged that the Minister of Police (Mr Nathi Nhleko) and the Minister of Public Works (Mr Thulas Nxesi) misled Parliament in their Report to Parliament on the Security upgrades at the Nkandla Residence of the President.
The complainant alleges that because President Zuma has conceded, in the Constitutional Court, that not all security upgrades were security-related and that he further stated that he is prepared to repay a portion of the costs, the Ministers misled Parliament in their report by finding to the contrary.
The allegations in the complaint referred to facts which formed part of the legal proceedings, and therefore at the meeting of 16 March 2016 the Registrar recommended that the Committee defer this complaint until the courts have made a ruling in respect of the matter, and when the facts have been established.
On 31 March 2016, the Constitutional Court handed down its judgement in Economic Freedom Fighters v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others; Democratic Alliance v Speaker of the National Assembly and Others  ZACC 11. The Court ruled, inter alia, that the findings of the Public Protector are binding and that her remedial action must be implemented.
In considering the matter, the Committee considered whether it has jurisdiction in respect of a complaint related to a Member’s conduct in the House in the course and scope of fulfilling their role and obligations.
Section 57(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, regarding “Internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures of National Assembly”, provides:
- determine and control its internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures; and
- make rules and orders concerning its business, with due regard to representative and participatory democracy, accountability, transparency and public involvement.
The Rules of the National Assembly govern the conduct of Members during parliamentary proceedings including during the proceedings of committees.
The Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests is established in terms of rule 121 of the Joint Rules of Parliament. Rule 124 of the Joint Rules sets out the functions of the Committee:
- The Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests must —
- implement the Code of Conduct for Assembly and permanent Council members set out in the Schedule;
- develop standards of ethical conduct for Assembly and Council members;
- serve as an advisory and consultative body, both generally and to members, concerning the implementation and interpretation of the Code;
- regularly review the Code and make recommendations for its amendment; and
- perform the other functions and exercise the other powers reasonably assigned to the Committee in the Code and in terms of resolutions adopted in both Houses.
In terms of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests, the purpose and scope of the Code include to ‘provide a framework of reference for Members of Parliament when discharging their duties and responsibilities”; to outline “the minimum ethical standards of behaviour that South Africans expect of public representatives, including upholding propriety, integrity and ethical values in their conduct”; and to “create public trust and confidence in public representatives and to protect the integrity of Parliament”.
The Committee agreed that the allegations against the Ministers relate to conduct that occurred during proceedings of the National Assembly and its committees. Such conduct is governed by the Rules of the National Assembly. Accordingly, this matter would fall outside the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests. The complaint falls outside the scope of the Committee.
N A Masondo A Singh
Co- Chairperson Co-Chairperson
Van Schalkwyk, SR
No related documents