MPs told to get out of the state’s bed

2014-06-29 15:00

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South Africa’s latest crop of MPs face tough new rules barring business with the state. They have to reveal what they own by the end of next month.

Among the 400 members of the National Assembly, City Press found at least 129 with active business interests, ­representing more than 350 active companies and a further 300 dormant entities.

The interests include stakes in construction firms, property ­companies, mining companies, consultancies and investment houses. They also ­include BEE partners of private companies, some of which have sizable government contracts.

Parliament’s new ethics code is due to be adopted by the National Assembly in the next few weeks. It bars MPs, their immediate families and their business partners from engaging in any business with an organ of state.

It also requires MPs to declare any outside remuneration within 30 days of being paid, including all details of the work done.

Members have to submit detailed declarations of their assets and interests within 60 days of being sworn in, but because Parliament has to appoint a new ethics committee, the deadline could be extended.

MPs and other top officials have in the past profited from their links with the state.

In 2012, City Press reported on the R500?million property empire in Pretoria built by Limpopo’s then premier Cassel Mathale and then finance portfolio committee chair Thaba Mufamadi on the back of government office ­leases, which would be illegal under the new rules.

Mathale has since divested of his interest in the company.

City Press found several MPs with possible business ties to the state. They include:

» Patekile Holomisa’s Contralesa Investment Holdings, a BEE partner in a consulting engineering firm, UWP, which does business with the state. Holomisa told City Press that he resigned from his directorship when he was appointed to the position of deputy minister of labour;

» ANC MP Cedric Frolick is a nonexecutive director of the company that manages the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, which is paid an undisclosed management fee by the municipality. Frolick told City Press he is in the process of resigning from his position and had not benefited financially;

» Former ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga’s Kara Heritage Institute has ties with the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs and the SA Heritage Resource Agency. Motshekga told City Press the institute did not receive any tenders from the state and was not a profit-making entity;

» New DA MP Toby Chance is a former managing director of Adele Lucas Promotions, an event management firm with a three-year, R4?million contract with the City of Cape Town. Chance told City Press he had resigned his directorship when he became an MP and no longer derived any benefit from the contract; and

» DA MP Sej Motau is on the board of the Grahamstown Foundation, which receives grants from the department of arts and culture. He told City Press he derives no income from his position at the not-for-profit organisation.

During his tenure as human settlements minister, Tokyo Sexwale had his ­extensive business interests placed in a blind trust, but at the time critics told City Press the effectiveness of such a measure depended on how the trust was set up and who was placed in control.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa last month divested of his interests in Shanduka. Should his lucrative consumer interests in McDonald’s SA and Coca-Cola Shanduka be found not to be in conflict with his political post, they will be controlled by his family trust.

DA federal chairperson James Selfe said all new DA MPs and members of provincial legislatures were required to report business interests to the party ­leadership by June 12, but some had not yet complied.

“Should it turn out that any of our public representatives have significant ­shareholdings in companies that do business with the state, we would need to assess the degree of conflict of interest. At the very least, members would have to recuse themselves from proceedings of the House?...?when these matters were discussed. They may have to divest themselves of those shareholdings,” he said.

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