Parliament turns down request to keep 'state capture' report safe

2016-10-14 20:19
National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete (Parliament TV)

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Cape Town - Parliament has turned down a request by outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to keep the "state capture" report safe in the run up to the application to stop its release.

"The Speaker has an obligation in terms of the Rules of the Assembly to table all documents received for the information of Members, in order to ensure that the business of the Assembly is conducted in an open and transparent manner," Parliament said in a statement on Friday night.

"This report however cannot be handled in the same manner," Parliament said.

It explained that Speaker Baleka Mbete received a request from Madonsela on Friday asking that she preserves and keeps the report safe.

On her last day at work, where she was expected to release a number of final reports and possibly the "state capture" report, Madonsela faced an application to prevent the report's release.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen joined the queue behind President Jacob Zuma to stop the report going public by applying to the court for an interdict against its release.

Request by Dominican Order

His lawyers argued that he had not had enough time to answer her questions.

Zuma's application was due to be heard on Tuesday but will now be joined with Van Rooyen's, which was postponed to November 1.

The investigation was sparked by a request made by the Dominican Order - a grouping of Catholic priests - which asked that Madonsela investigate the claims that the Gupta family, who conduct business with the government, had some senior government officials in their pocket.

Madonsela has indicated that she is investigating the claims in terms of the Members Executive Ethics Act.

Avoiding the term "state capture", Parliament described the probe as an "investigation into complaints of alleged improper and unethical conduct by the President and other state functionaries relating to alleged improper relationships and involvement of the Gupta family in the removal and appointment of Ministers and Directors of State Owned Entities (SOES) resulting in improper and possibly corrupt award of State contracts and benefits to the Gupta family businesses".

The request was to keep the report safe until Madonsela's successor Busisiwe Mkhwabele assumes office.

Findings initially rejected by Parliament

Parliament and Madonsela bumped heads previously over her report that part of the R249m spent on Zuma's private home in Nkandla should be for his own account.

Parliament rejected her findings but the Constitutional Court later lambasted Mbete for her interpretation of the Public Protector's powers.

According to the protector's website, the priests had asked that the Public Protector investigate allegations that the Deputy Minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas and former member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor were offered Cabinet positions by members of the Gupta family "in exchange for favourable executive decisions and beneficial business interests".

They also wanted the office to find out whether the appointment of Van Rooyen as minister of finance was known beforehand by the Gupta family.

They also wanted her to find out whether two "senior advisors" linked to the Gupta family were appointed to the National Treasury, alongside Van Rooyen, without following proper procedure.

They also wanted her to look into the business dealings of the family with government departments to determine whether there were irregularities regarding undue enrichment or alleged corruption on the influencing of tenders, mining licences, government advertisements in the New Age newspapers and any other government services.

At her final press conference on Friday, Madonsela said the report would not be released until after the interdict application verdict "because it is good practice" and would not answer questions on the topic.

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