Ethics Committee Probe on the Cards for MPs
Parliament's committee on ethics and members' interests is to conduct an investigation into alleged breaches of the code of conduct for MPs.
If Deputy President Jacob Zuma is found to have breached the code, the committee has powers to publicly reprimand him, fine him up to 30 days' salary - about R60 000 - or reduce his salary or allowances for up to 15 days.
Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka last week forwarded to National Assembly Speaker Frene Ginwala a list of allegations against Zuma based on the fact that he did not declare to parliament that he had received more than R1-million from his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
According to the code: "Members should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that may influence them in the performance of their official duties".
Ginwala has since referred Ngcuka's allegations to the committee, which will in turn have instructed the registrar of members' Interests, Faziela Mahomed, to write to Zuma - an African National Congress MP and also leader of government business in parliament - asking him to reply to the allegations within a week or so.
If the committee decides there is a case against Zuma, it would conduct a hearing where Zuma would be able to defend himself.
The committee consists of 27 MPs, 15 of them from the ruling ANC, three seats occupied by the NNP, three by the Democratic Alliance, two by the Inkatha Freedom Party, and there are four seats vacant.
Following the recent floor-crossing, there is uncertainty about who should occupy one of the vacant seats.
The committee is led by ANC MP Luwellyn Landers, until recently a little-known backbencher who served on parliament's intelligence oversight committee.
His home in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, was petrol-bombed in the 1980s while he was serving as an MP for Alan Hendrickse's Labour Party.
With acknowledgements to Jeremy Michaels and The Star.