Chief whip must apologise: DA

By Drum Digital
28 August 2013

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani must apologise for accusing DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard of violating her oath of confidentiality, the DA said.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani must apologise for accusing DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard of violating her oath of confidentiality, the DA said on Wednesday. "The DA demands that the ANC formally apologise to Ms Kohler-Barnard [and] withdraw the comments and statements made tarnishing her integrity and reputation," Democratic Alliance deputy chief whip Sandy Kalyan said in a statement. The DA also demanded that the African National Congress "refrain from unsubstantiated comments of this nature". Sizani's office said in a statement on Thursday that Kohler-Barnard should be removed from Parliament's ethics committee.

She had "violated her oath to confidentiality" during a recent hearing by the committee into former communications minister Dina Pule, it said.

"It has come to our attention that Ms Kohler-Barnard violated her oath to confidentiality and the ethical code of conduct by disclosing sensitive information to her friends on social media during the course of the hearing on the former minister of communications," it said at the time.

According to the ANC statement "an article published in The Post on August 14 by one of Kohler-Barnard's Facebook followers" indicated she "regularly posted updates on the proceedings of the hearing".

The parliamentary code of conduct enjoins all MPs and staff serving on the committee to take an oath of confidentiality. Kalyan said the journalist who wrote the article confirmed she did not receive any information from Kohler-Barnard regarding "confidential deliberations". "Furthermore, she asserted that her comments on the matter were 'misinterpreted and taken out of context' by the ANC." Sizani's office said on Wednesday that "backtracking" by the journalist did not impact on the complaint to Parliament. Kohler-Barnard had also threatened Sizani with legal action.

"The DA's statement... is illustrative of a deep guilty conscience and desperation to get itself and its member out of the messy situation they are in," it said. "We are neither intimidated by her legal threat nor bothered by the writer's alleged back-pedalling." It was an "interesting coincidence" that the journalist decided to retract after the ANC announced its complaint. This raised questions on whether The Post had published a retraction, whether the journalist was intimidated, and whether she was "taking the fall" for Kohler-Barnard, Sizani's office said. "In our view, the alleged retraction is just a side charade which has no bearing on the committee's responsibility regarding the complaint." Kalyan said that if Kohler-Barnard wanted to pursue legal action against Sizani, she was entitled to do so in her personal capacity.

Pule was suspended by Parliament for the scandal that saw her boyfriend benefit from state funding. Speaker Max Sisulu told Pule she betrayed her oath of office and brought Parliament into disrepute.

Pule was sacked from her portfolio in a Cabinet reshuffle in July.

-by Sapa

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