Ethics committee clears an MP

2012-03-08 13:40

Parliament’s joint ethics and members’ interests committee has exonerated ANC member of Parliament (MP) Thaba Mufamadi of misconduct allegations.

Mufamadi – chairperson of Parliament’s finance standing committee – is reportedly the majority shareholder in Manaka Properties.

A Sunday Independent newspaper article on January 30 raised questions about the conduct of Manaka Properties in relation to its business dealings with government.

Joint committee chairpersons Buoang Mashile and Ben Turok said in a statement today that the committee had considered the matter yesterday and found Mufamadi had disclosed his interests as required by the code of conduct.

“The committee asked him to explain whether he disclosed his interests, and if he made any representations to any organ of state,” they said.

In his response in a sworn statement, Mufamadi said the business transactions were concluded prior to his appointment in Parliament and confirmed that he did not make any representations in terms of the code.

“The committee found that there is no breach of the code of conduct,” Mashile and Turok said.

On Monday it emerged that the home affairs is paying R33 million a year rental for its new Pretoria headquarters – owned by Manaka Properties. This was more than one-and-a-half times what the department previously paid for office space.

According to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the new offices, located in the Hallmark Building in Pretoria’s central business district, are costing her ministry about R1 307 a square metre.

“The yearly rental is R33 195 583.80 (VAT inclusive); the floor space is 25 388.50 square metres,” she said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

Previously, the department had paid R25.7 million a year for 30 859 square metres of floor space. This is about R832 a square metre.

Home Affairs started moving from Waltloo, east of Pretoria, to the more central Hallmark Building late last year.

The Hallmark Building is owned by Manaka Property Investments (Pty) Limited. According to the company’s website (www.manaka.co.za), its chairperson is Mufamadi.

On whether the department had invited tenders from property companies ahead of choosing Manaka, Dlamini-Zuma said in her reply the department of public works was “responsible for the accommodation needs of government departments”.

In November, home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said: “At no stage did the department of home affairs have to deal with any aspect of the tendering processes, including the names of companies who have tendered.”

The whole process had been handled by public works.

Any suggestion that home affairs had awarded a tender to ANC-connected business people “must be rejected with the contempt it deserves”, Apleni said at the time.

Last month, DA member of Parliament Dion George said that over the eight-year lease period, home affairs would pay R60 million more to do business with Manaka compared to its previous lease agreement.

The evidence suggested home affairs was paying “inflated rates to politically-connected people” for their new building, he said in a statement issued at the time.

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