Zuma guilty

2010-04-25 11:08

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has been found guilty of violating the

executive code of ethics.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, in a major departure from her

predecessor Lawrence Mushwana’s softly-softly approach, has branded Zuma “tardy”

in a spirited report handed to the presidency and the Democratic Alliance (DA)

on Wednesday.

But Zuma will escape with a slap on the wrist because Madonsela is

not in a position to punish the president by law. However, Zuma’s case may be

used to revamp the law books to make provisions for tougher punishment for

errant officials.

Madonsela’s report recommends that Parliament rewrite the ethics

codes for the executive by June to include punishment for those who contravene

the codes.

Today City Press can reveal exclusively that Zuma breached section

5.2 of the executive ethics code ­because he did not declare his financial

interests, assets and liabilities within 60 days of his election. He did so only

on March 10 this year, a few days after DA parliamentary leader Athol Trollip

lodged the complaint with the Public Protector.

In her report, Madonsela finds him in contravention of the ethics

code, although she accepts that some aspects of the code are unclear and thus

hard to comply with.

Madonsela also finds “there is a systemic pattern of non-compliance

with the time lines and some of the requirements stipulated in the code by a

substantial number of members of the executive, which should be attended to by

Cabinet urgently”.

The report reveals that only 40 of the 64 members of the executive

honoured the code of ethics by ­declaring their interests timeously.

Madonsela’s main recommendations include:

  • That Cabinet note the findings of the report regarding Zuma’s

    conduct, including his regret about the delay, deal with the matter

    appropriately and report to Parliament;

  • That Parliament consider the application, with effect from June

    this year, of the same punishment ­applicable to MPs who violate the

    parliamentary code of conduct for members of the executive who violate their own

    ethical code. A reprimand and/or a fine not exceeding 30 days salary, a

    reduction of salary or allowances not exceeding 15 days, and/or a suspension of

    privileges and the right to a seat for a period not exceeding 15 days;

  • That provincial legislatures consider instituting the same

    measures;

  • That Parliament considers an amendment to the Executive Members’

    Ethics Act to address uncertainties and anomalies, especially regarding which

    office or person the president should approach to declare gifts worth more than

    R1?000, and whether that office or person should grant or refuse the president

    the right to accept such gifts;

  • That the president consider ­referring the Public Protector’s

    ­report to Cabinet for comment and decision on any action to be taken, and that

    Cabinet then submit the ­report to Parliament; and

  • That Parliament advise the Public Protector by July 1 this year

    on any decision taken in respect of ­future punishment of those who contravene

    the code of ethics.

Madonsela will, for the next six months, monitor and support the

implementation of the report’s ­recommendations because, as she points out,

numerous other ­recommendations over the past few years not been

implemented.

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said yesterday ­Zu­ma

had not yet studied the ­findings, but that he would accept, respect and learn

from them ­because of the role the Constitution affords the Public Protector as

an ­institution.

Trollip welcomed the findings, pointing out that the interests Zuma

did declare on March 10 were ­woefully inadequate.

“This is further proof the president needs stronger oversight and

closer attention than his predecessors. Parliament’s oversight should be

strengthened to include a portfolio committee ­dedicated to keeping the

presidency accountable.”


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