R120 000 tap on the wrist

Finweek English Edition - - THE FINWEEK -

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.

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