R120 000 tap on the wrist
MINISTERS WHO FAIL TO comply with legislation requiring them to declare their private business interests – and which prohibits them from undertaking other paid work and/or using their position to enrich themselves – will face financial penalties. Finweek asked Government spokesman Themba Maseko for some details.
Why did Cabinet decide to implement interim measures when the Justice and Constitutional Development Minister is currently reviewing the code of ethics that binds all ministers when they take office?
The Public Protector’s report on that issue identified gaps that need to be addressed.
Aside from the fact the Public Protector found more than 40% of ministers hadn’t properly disclosed their interests in the required 60-day period after taking office, the Public Service Commission and other research by the Institute for Security Studies have been highlighting the gaps in the system consistently for many years.
Why not wait until the review is complete and until the legislation can be overhauled to address those gaps? What’s the urgency now?
The decision to impose sanctions could have waited, but the Public Protector called for those gaps to be addressed urgently. Cabinet is taking the issue very seriously.
Was there a specific case or cases (President Jacob Zuma had failed to complete
the register almost a year into his term, and Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda was also fingered by the Public Protector for using his position to influence Government processes after he publicly supported Siyabonga Gama’s bid to become Transnet CEO) that prompted Cabinet to take action before the review?
No. There was no discussion about individuals.
Will these sanctions apply retrospectively, which will see the likes of Zuma and Nyanda being the first to have their salaries docked?
No. The sanctions include a fine not exceeding the value of 30 days’ salary and a reduction of salary or allowances for a period not exceeding 15 days. That means ministers earning around R1,6m/year could be liable for a sanction of up to R120 000.
Is that tough enough? Should breaking ethics code legislation not constitute a criminal offence?
It possibly could have been tougher, but they’re interim measures. We’ll have to wait and see what the review recommends.