DA to introduce private member's bills for establishment of Anti-Corruption Commission

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DA MP Glynnis Breyetenbach.
DA MP Glynnis Breyetenbach.
Jan Gerber/News24
  • The DA will introduce legislation to establish a Chapter 9 institution to investigate high-level corruption.
  • They are backed by NPO Accountability Now, which will also propose a constitutional amendment to Parliament.
  • The envisaged Anti-Corruption Commission will not usurp the powers of the NPA.

The DA will introduce proposed legislation to establish a Chapter 9 institution to investigate high-level corruption cases in both the public and private sectors.

The DA worked with NPO Accountability Now on the proposal.

Its director, advocate Paul Hoffman, was also at Thursday's online briefing where DA MP and spokesperson on justice Glynnis Breytenbach introduced the envisaged private member's bills to the media with her chief whip, Natasha Mazzone.

The one private member's bill proposes amendments to sections 181, 193 and 194 of the Constitution to establish the new Chapter 9 Institution called the Anti-Corruption Commission.

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The other bill will govern the functions, powers and composition of the commission.

Accountability Now would also table a proposal for establishing a Chapter 9 institution dealing with corruption to Parliament's Constitutional Review Committee, Hoffman said.

The DA's proposed commission will do the following:


  • Investigate allegations of high-level corruption.
  • Examine the practices and procedures of public and private bodies to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices.
  • Receive complaints on the breach of the relevant codes of ethics by prescribed officers and shall oversee the enforcement thereof.
  • Investigate and recommend to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) the prosecution of any acts of corruption or violation of codes of ethics.
  • In the event of the NDPP declining to prosecute any investigation referred to the NPA by the commission, it shall be entitled to second its duly qualified staff to the NPA to prosecute charges to their final determination by the appropriate court, within strictly defined and agreed to parameters, to be contained in legislation to be drafted, and in co-operation with the NPA.
  • The commission may refer any suspected offence that comes to its notice in the course of its investigations to any appropriate person or body for further investigation, forfeiture of assets, proceedings or prosecution. 
  • The commission will also be mandated to advise public and private bodies on effective measures to prevent corruption; educate the public and raise awareness on the dangers of corruption; and, depending on its findings, make the necessary recommendations to the appropriate authority.

According to a statement from Breytenbach, the main objective of the proposed commission would be to investigate, among other functions, high-level corruption cases.

"This independent institution is long overdue, as the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation [Hawks] is not sufficiently independent and the National Prosecuting Authority [NPA] is currently besieged by systemic challenges," read her statement.

"The establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission will particularly remove a large burden on the NPA, allowing them to concentrate on their core function of prosecuting crime, as the commission will concentrate on a strictly defined and legislated space, dealing only with large-scale grand corruption.

Dealing

"This will provide a quicker, more efficient and effective method of dealing with the type of grand-scale corruption we see daily, but which cannot be dealt with effectively within current existing and overburdened structures."

She said at the briefing the idea was not to usurp the powers of the NPA or work in opposition to the police, as the NPA and police's input would be obtained.

"We are trying to find a way to streamline the investigation and prosecution of serious, grand-scale corruption that lightens the burden on the NPA."

Breytenbach added the commission they envisaged would be a standalone office with the same independence as the Office of the Public Protector that answered only to the courts to prevent political interference.

The legislation is still in the drafting stage, and according to her, Parliament's legal services had been helpful in this regard, saying it was, therefore, as yet not possible to say when it would be introduced to Parliament.


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