Ethics committee targeting opposition, DA claims

2016-03-16 13:48

Cape Town - The DA on Wednesday accused Parliament's ethics committee of actively targeting opposition party MPs to smear them, after the party's leader Mmusi Maimane was sanctioned for not declaring sponsorships on time.

"It has become obvious that the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests has been turned into an ANC political hit squad with a mandate to besmirch opposition members and their reputations, while at the same time protecting members of the ANC in Parliament from being held to the same standards," DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said.

Last week, Parliament said Maimane would be sanctioned for not declaring donations and sponsorships in the Members’ Register of Interests on time.

Steenhuisen said a strict reading of the rules showed Maimane hadn't done anything wrong and other political parties had not declared these donations either.

Steenhuisen said he could not remember how much it was, but the money was a donation for items like badges and T-shirts during its campaign last year for a successor to party leader Helen Zille.

Campaign managers received the donations during the internal elections and Maimane, who was elected leader, had not had anything to do with the money.

He said the registrar, Fazela Mahomed, was quick to find fault with the DA, but dragged her heels when there were complaints against ANC MPs.

Committee chair Amos Masondo was "overtly partisan", targeting MPs and violating procedure, he claimed. 

Complaints and reports were leaked to ANC MPs, which was against the rules, he continued. Last October, the ANC received the Declaration of Members’ Interests and released press statements about it before the register was published.

Subsequently, complaints were lodged against DA MPs for not submitting completed declarations of interests before the deadline.

The party rectified the oversight, but the committee went against precedent and still pursued its complaint against Maimane and MP Makashule Gana.

"The committee did not inform the members of the complaint against them, did not ask for their inputs, gave them no opportunity to give evidence or be heard, and made a finding without any regard for basic due process."

The DA would ask for a review of the decision against Maimane and Gana, or else it would pursue other avenues.

Masondo said a media statement on the matter could be issued after the committee's meeting on Wednesday.

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