Is Pule Mabe scot-free?

2015-10-05 17:15
Pule Mabe appears to have escaped unscathed after the Public Protector’s report into dodgy dealings at Prasa implicated him in a tender scandal. Picture: Lerato Maduna

Pule Mabe appears to have escaped unscathed after the Public Protector’s report into dodgy dealings at Prasa implicated him in a tender scandal. Picture: Lerato Maduna

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Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests is yet to make a decision on whether to investigate ANC MP Pule Mabe – six weeks after he was implicated in wrongdoing in the Public Protector’s report on the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa). 

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Mabe’s company KG Media received a contract worth R33 million from Prasa without correct tender processes being followed. 

This week, the chairperson of the ethics committee, Amos Masondo, said while they were aware of “the allegations” that had been made against Mabe, the committee would examine the issues at an appropriate time. 

City Press understands that at least two attempts to raise the Public Protector’s findings in the committee were dismissed because printing Madonsela’s 385-page report for MPs would be a hassle. 

Masondo said: “That’s another issue that we are debating all the time. Some of these reports are too big, so we encourage members to use their own facilities … Members use the facilities in Parliament to do that [print the report]. 

“But with a much shorter report, it’s easy,” said Masondo when asked whether it was true that he had said the report was too thick to be printed out for everyone. 

He added, however, that this was not a reason not to deal with the matter, and that if MPs insisted that the committee go ahead and print the report for everybody, it would do that. 

Masondo, who had initially referred to Madonsela’s findings as “allegations”, changed his tune when City Press pressed him for reasons the committee would treat a Public Protector’s findings as such. 

“I think you are correct in saying that there must be some weight to the issues that are raised by the Public Protector,” he said. 

“We can’t ignore the fact that there is a report and that this issue is also in the media. 

“But don’t expect us to pass judgement and to find the MP guilty before a hearing takes place.” 

Masondo said the committee wouldn’t delay the matter “too much” and it would not avoid it, but that it did not want to plunge into it unprepared. 

He said the committee operated in a manner where wrongdoing was established at the end of a process. 

“We start by saying ‘here is information that needs to be examined and be looked into’, and part of that will include talking to the MP himself.” 

The committee’s prevarication on Mabe has highlighted how party political affiliation has become central to how issues are handled. 

Earlier this year, it took the ANC’s chief whip, Stone Sizani, eight days to request a formal parliamentary investigation into DA sext pest MP Archibold Figlan, who was found guilty of sexual harassment by the party. 

Sizani wrote to Masondo asking the ethics committee to “investigate and determine if Figlan’s reprehensible conduct is not in violation of the ethical conduct expected of all MPs”. 

The DA responded to this by laying a countercharge against ANC MP Mandla Mandela, who was convicted of assault by the Mthatha Magistrates’ Court in March, but is appealing the conviction. 

But six weeks after a chapter 9 institution made findings of possible fraud and corruption amounting to more than R33 million at Prasa, Parliament’s two biggest parties have not pushed for the matter to be dealt with by Parliament. 

The ethics committee, which is one of the most fundamental committees in the country when it comes to how the institution runs itself, was previously lauded for the proactive, tough stance it took against MPs who had been found guilty of corruption. 

It is the custodian of the code of conduct for MPs, a code that not only requires financial disclosures by MPs, but adherence to the highest standards.

Read more on:    prasa  |  thuli madonsela  |  pule mabe

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