Members of parliament, including former communications minister Dina Pule, are to be named and shamed for failing to disclose their business interests on time or failing to hand in disclosures at all, parliament’s ethics committee said on Wednesday.
The 2013 register of members’ interests was released during a committee meeting. It lists the business interests, sponsorships, gifts, property, travel, pensions and other financial interests of MPs.
During the meeting, it emerged that 59 had MPs missed the 23 August deadline.
Parliament’s members’ interests registrar Fazela Mahomed said there were a further three MPs who had not handed in their disclosure forms at all.
They included two MPs who were ill as well as disgraced former minister Pule.
Mahomed recommended to the committee that the three be given an extension to complete their forms.
The other 59 politicians would not be given any grace, with MPs from all parties wanting them to be sanctioned for the late disclosures.
The ANC’s Gerhard Koornhof said all MPs had been sent letters and text messages reminding them to submit their disclosure forms before the deadline.
“The 59 that did not submit in time, I propose that their names be published in the ATC,” Koornhof said. The ATC, or announcements, tablings and committee reports, is a parliamentary document published daily.
Democratic Alliance MP Anchen Dreyer agreed and said the ethics committee had to flex its muscles in dealing with noncompliant MPs.
“I’m taking a tougher line … in the case of ex-minister Pule. She was suspended three days before the deadline, but she’s known all along the deadline is coming,” Dreyer said.
“It’s ironic that the very case for which she appeared [before the committee on misconduct charges] had dealt with her wrongful submission on members’ interests.”
On Pule’s non-submission, committee chairman Ben Turok said he was not as focused on her missing the deadline.
“The issue for us is, is she going to comply honestly? Whether it’s a week later or a week earlier is of little interest. What interests me is, is she going to tell us the truth?” Turok said.
Pule was suspended from parliament in August after the ethics committee found she had failed to declare that her romantic partner Phosane Mngqibisa materially benefited from the sponsorship of last year’s information and communications technology event, the ICT Indaba, which her department hosted in Cape Town.
Inkatha Freedom Party MP Koos van der Merwe defended Pule, saying the matter was “buried” and that words like dishonesty should not be used as she was an “honourable member and we must accept her integrity”.
He was not so kind when it came to the MPs who missed the disclosure deadline.
“I think the chair of the committee should write to each one of the 59 reading them the riot act,” Van der Merwe said.
Turok’s co-chairman Lemias Mashile said that instead of writing to the MPs, he would insist that parliament’s presiding officers reprimand them.
Mahomed told the committee she had heard from a male cabinet minister who was among those who had sent in their disclosure form late. She did not name him.
“We received a letter saying that he had not received the form. He was just very furious and he wanted us to prove [that we sent him the disclosure form],” Mahomed said.
ANC MP Modjadji Mangena said this was no excuse for making a late disclosure.
“Every year, [the South African Revenue Service] doesn’t write letters, but you know you are suppose to submit those [tax return] forms. Why can’t they [MPs] learn without being told that we are supposed to do this? Even that minister, I’m sorry to say that, he is lying.” — Sapa