Speaker’s ball: Mbete cleared

Pretoria News - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

NA­TIONAL As­sem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete has been cleared by the ethics com­mit­tee for al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing the eth­i­cal code by host­ing a pri­vate func­tion us­ing pub­lic funds and pay­ing ser­vice providers late. This fol­lowed a com­plaint by the DA af­ter Mbete hosted a Speaker’s Ball in Cape Town af­ter the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.

This was the sec­ond year in a row that Mbete had hosted the ball. Par­lia­ment has in the past two years scrapped func­tions as part of its belt-tight­en­ing mea­sures.

When it emerged early in the year that Mbete would host the ball it was al­leged pub­lic funds would be used.

This was de­nied by Par­lia­ment, Mbete and the ANC. DA chief whip John Steen­huisen lodged a com­plaint with the ethics com­mit­tee, co-chaired by Lindiwe Maseko and Aum Singh, a few months ago.

In a re­port pub­lished in Par­lia­ment the ethics com­mit­tee cleared Mbete of any wrong­do­ing and said the mat­ter was closed.

The com­mit­tee said it had been al­leged that dur­ing the func­tion some ser­vice providers were not paid and had be­gun le­gal pro­ceed­ings against Mbete.

Steen­huisen had claimed Mbete had brought Par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute with her be­hav­iour.

But in her re­sponse Mbete de­nied the al­le­ga­tions say­ing the event had been pri­vately funded and was run­ning for the sec­ond year.

“This func­tion was not ini­ti­ated, hosted, or­gan­ised or re­sourced by Par­lia­ment or the Of­fice of the Speaker,” she said.

Mbete later learnt an events com­pany, man­ag­ing the event, had not been paid by the or­gan­is­ers.

She in­ter­vened and re­solved the mat­ter, said the re­port. Mbete also de­nied she brought Par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute over the late pay­ment between the or­gan­is­ers and the events com­pany.

The com­mit­tee found that Mbete was not party to the agree­ment between the par­ties.

“She finds it rather far-fetched and ir­re­spon­si­ble to sug­gest that when a prob­lem (arises) between two pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als be­cause of the late pay­ment of a debt, there should be a sug­ges­tion that the speaker has brought the in­sti­tu­tion into dis­re­pute, thereby de­stroy­ing pub­lic con­fi­dence and re­spect in the in­sti­tu­tion,” said the re­port.

Her in­ter­ven­tion had saved the day for the af­fected party, it said.

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