Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2004-10-26 Reporter: Jeremy Michaels

De Lille Furious About Postponement of Ethics Committee Meeting on MPs' Conduct



Cape Times

Date 2004-10-26


Jeremy Michaels

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Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille has lashed out at the chairman of parliament's ethics committee, Luwellyn Landers, for postponing without explanation yesterday's meeting which was to deal with the investigation into at least a dozen MPs.

"Already parliament has been under the spotlight for the past few months and this kind of delay is adding to the perception that when it comes to MPs' wrongdoing we go 'voetjie, voetjie' in dealing with it," De Lille said yesterday.

Landers had late on Friday "postponed until further notice" the meeting that was scheduled to have taken place behind closed doors in parliament yesterday, but MPs were only informed yesterday morning, said De Lille.

"He gave no reasons whatsoever," said a furious De Lille, who insisted that while it was understandable that emergencies could arise, the fact that there was no explanation was unacceptable.

"As members of parliament we deserve the decency of an explanation - what was so important that the meeting had to be postponed?"

The persistent delays in dealing with the matter of MPs not making full declarations in the register of members' interests "is not working in favour of us as MPs and parliament as an institution", De Lille said.

DA spokesman Martin Slabbert said: "It is important to note that, according to the rules of parliament, this committee must deal with complaints within 30 days of it being lodged with the committee."

Landers was not available for comment.

The ethics committee was due to resume its investigation into some of the institution's top MPs, including one of the two presiding officers, Joyce Kgoali, and ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe.

Kgoali and Goniwe are among at least a dozen MPs who allegedly did not fully declare their business interests in parliament's register of members' interests.

The ethics committee is responsible for enforcing compliance with the register.

Kgoali, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), made headlines last month when the Mail and Guardian first reported that she had not declared that she was a director of Allpay Gauteng, the company which holds a multimillion rand contract to distribute social grants (and pensions) on behalf of the Gauteng provincial government.

Kgoali declared in the most recent register of members' interests that she was a director of Sa Basadi Community Development Trust - a stakeholder in Allpay - but not that she was a director of the company and received a R2 500 monthly stipend from the trust.

Her then office manager, Moroka Matutle, launched an urgent court bid in the middle of the night to stop the Mail and Guardian from publishing the story on September 3, but the court dismissed the application with costs.

Goniwe allegedly failed to declare that he had interests in a fishing venture, Gwebindlala Fishing, and Ubunye Construction company.

At its last meeting in mid-September, the ethics committee could not take decisions on the investigation because it did not have a quorum of members present.

With acknowledgements to Jeremy Michaels and the Cape Times.