Zuma slammed for wasting time as Parliament adopts FIC Bill

Cape Town - The Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Bill was adopted by Parliament on Tuesday amid fierce criticism from opposition parties against President Jacob Zuma's decision to refer the bill back to Parliament in the first place.

Opposition MPs laid into Zuma for wasting Parliament's time by referring the FIC Bill back to the National Assembly in November due to "constitutional reservations" and implied it was done with ulterior motives.

The bill will once again be sent to Zuma for ratification after another round of public hearings and deliberations which resulted in minor amendments to the original bill that had been passed in May last year.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson on finance David Maynier said in a declaration that the piece of legislation aims to take reasonable measures to establish the source of wealth and source of funds of clients, and to conduct enhanced ongoing monitoring of business relationships.

Manyi called a 'banker basher'

"And that is why Jimmy Manyi and his band of banker bashers emerged from under a rock to strongly oppose it," Maynier said.

During public hearings conducted late in January, Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi from the Progressive Professionals Forum and Danisa Baloyi from the Black Business Council were strongly opposed to the FIC Bill, declaring they would take it on constitutional review if passed by Zuma. 

READ: Heated public hearings into FIC Bill 

Maynier said everybody knows Zuma refused to use his “presidential quill” to sign the bill into law. 

“We were told the president recognised that the purpose of the bill was ‘important and pressing’ but nevertheless thought that the provision dealing with ‘warrantless searches’, in particular Section 45B (1C), was likely to be unconstitutional.” 

Two members of senior counsel who were consulted by Parliament and National Treasury advised that the bill was indeed constitutional, but that there would be no harm in tightening up provisions dealing with warrantless searches. 

“This, of course, fuelled speculation that the bill had actually been referred back with an ulterior motive: in this case to ‘defang’ the Financial Intelligence Centre,” Maynier said. 

Why approve a bill and then send it back, asks Shivambu 

Floyd Shivambu from the Economic Freedom Fighters said in his declaration that he found it strange that Zuma, who had initially approved the FIC Bill at Cabinet level, sent it back after being passed by Parliament on so-called constitutional grounds. 

READ: EFF throws weight behind FIC Bill 

“He dealt with it first. What’s the basis of him sending it back? It’s because of the Guptas,” Shivambu said. 

Shivambu was highly critical of the last round of public hearings, at which stakeholders were allowed to make submissions that extended beyond Zuma’s constitutional reservations. 

“We’re supposed to listen to such nonsense. But now we’ve expedited the process and we have all the legal advice and the law needs to be passed. There’s nothing unconstitutional about it. 

“We need a proper instrument to fight money laundering,” Shivambu added. 

'A waste of time' 

Mkhuleko Hlengwa from the Inkatha Freedom Party said in his declaration the referral of the bill back to parliament was a “waste of time”. 

“People went on about sweet nothings. There was nothing unconstitutional about the bill, but instead it was about protecting certain interests of certain people who continue to abuse the finances in this country.” 

He accused “Manyi and company” of abusing Parliament as a vehicle for advancing their own interests.

READ: FIC Bill delay 'good news for criminals'  

Nqabayomzi Kwankwa from the United Democratic Front said he found it curious that the bill had sat on Zuma’s desk for a period of six months. “He probably tried to move his money in that time.” 

Like other opposition MPs he called the deliberations a “complete waste of time”. 

Thandi Tobias, ANC MP and a member of the portfolio committee on finance, accused the previous speakers of “huffing and puffing” and jumped to Zuma’s defence, saying he has a lot of work on his hands and is not there simply to pass bills. 

She further said that the committee had no choice but to allow submissions on the bill. “We’re a people’s parliament and any member of the public has the right to be heard by Pariament. It’s not correct for any member to say we relooked at the bill because of Manyi’s motives.” 

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