Speaker’s ball: Mbete cleared
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.