DA asks for le­gal opin­ion on sex pest

CityPress - - News - ALICESTINE OC­TO­BER news@city­press.co.za

A par­lia­men­tary hear­ing of the DA mem­ber of Par­lia­ment ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment is on hold af­ter the party asked for a le­gal opin­ion on the mat­ter this week.

The DA ob­jected to a de­ci­sion by Par­lia­ment’s joint com­mit­tee on ethics and mem­bers’ in­ter­ests to call the com­plainant as a wit­ness.

An in­ter­nal party dis­ci­plinary hear­ing has al­ready found the MP, Archi­bold Figlan, guilty of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. He was given a sen­tence the ANC calls a slap on the wrist – be­cause he con­tin­ues as an MP.

A DA em­ployee ear­lier this year laid a com­plaint of sex­ual ha­rass­ment against Figlan af­ter an in­ci­dent dur­ing a protest at the state of the na­tion ad­dress. Figlan al­legedly said “protest here” as he put her hand on his crotch. Ac­cord­ing to DA fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive chair James Selfe, the party has al­ready been through “a very thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion of this case”. But ANC chief whip Stone Sizani called the process “a mis­car­riage of jus­tice”. Sizani laid a com­plaint, ask­ing the com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate whether Figlan had breached the code of con­duct for MPs.

The ANC said the DA, with the light sen­tence, had missed an op­por­tu­nity to send a pow­er­ful mes­sage against the abuse of women.

DA MP Sandy Kalyan con­firmed on Fri­day that the com­mit­tee process was on hold pend­ing a le­gal opin­ion the DA had sought from Par­lia­ment’s le­gal team on the pow­ers and man­date of the ethics com­mit­tee.

“The man­date seems to be over­lap­ping with that of the pow­ers and priv­i­leges com­mit­tee,” she said.

But an ANC MP, who is a mem­ber of the com­mit­tee, warned that the DA should not be mak­ing an is­sue where there was none.

Ac­cord­ing to the MP, there was no priv­i­lege when it came to al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual ha­rass­ment – be­cause this con­cerned the eth­i­cal con­duct of an “honourable mem­ber”.

Selfe con­tended the mat­ter was not within the scope of the ethics com­mit­tee and warned against the com­mit­tee process head­ing for se­ri­ous prob­lems.

“If we go this way, it means there is a per­ma­nent polic­ing of ac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties of MPs. A short walk from that, we will end up with a sit­u­a­tion where a ma­jor­ity is used to de­cide what is un­eth­i­cal and what is not.”

Figlan said ear­lier that the com­mit­tee had al­ready asked him to sub­mit a sworn af­fi­davit but he wanted to know first what the ex­act charges were. “One can­not be charged for the same thing twice.” Part of the sanc­tion im­posed by the DA against him was that he would not, for five years, be el­i­gi­ble for any elected po­si­tion in the party.

Figlan’s DA mem­ber­ship was ter­mi­nated but that part of the sen­tence was sus­pended for five years.

He also had to per­form two hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice each month for a year and pay a fine of R1 000 a month for 12 months.

Af­ter his sen­tence, Figlan re­mained the DA’s deputy shadow min­is­ter for home af­fairs.

Selfe de­fended this, say­ing the post of deputy shadow min­is­ter was a cau­cus ap­point­ment and Figlan had al­ready re­signed from the fed­eral po­si­tion he held be­fore the ver­dict of the in­ter­nal dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

Archi­bold Figlan

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