Cleared Speaker can now have ball

Com­mit­tee finds Mbete didn’t breach ethics code, as claimed by DA

The Star Late Edition - - NEWS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

SPEAKER Baleka Mbete has been cleared by the ethics com­mit­tee in Par­lia­ment for al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing the eth­i­cal code for host­ing a pri­vate func­tion us­ing pub­lic funds and pay­ing ser­vice providers late.

This fol­lowed a com­plaint by the DA when Mbete hosted a Speaker’s ball in Cape Town af­ter the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress (Sona).

This was the sec­ond year in a row that Mbete had hosted the ball. Par­lia­ment has in the past two years scrapped func­tions in belt-tight­en­ing mea­sures. This in­cludes the post-Sona event held im­me­di­ately af­ter the ad­dress by the pres­i­dent.

When it emerged early in the year that Mbete would host the ball, it was al­leged pub­lic funds would be used, but 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 was al­leged that some ser­vice providers were not paid for their work at the func­tion 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 made against her by the DA chief whip. She said the event was pri­vately funded and it was run- ning 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 that an events com­pany, man­ag­ing the func­tion, had not been paid by the or­gan­is­ers. She in­ter­vened and re­solved the mat­ter, said the re­port.

Mbete also de­nied she had brought Par­lia­ment into dis­re­pute over the late pay­ment.

The com­mit­tee found she was not party to the agree­ment be­tween those in­volved in or­gan­is­ing the func­tion.

“She finds it rather far fetched and ir­re­spon­si­ble to sug­gest that when a prob­lem 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.

The com­mit­tee found that Mbete did not breach the eth­i­cal code, as sug­gested by the DA.

She did not be­tray pub­lic trust and had also in­ter­vened when the or­gan­is­ers did not pay the events com­pany on time.

The com­mit­tee said Mbete was off the hook and the com­plaint by the DA would no longer be pur­sued.

PIC­TURE: IAN LANDSBERG

OFF THE HOOK: Speaker of Par­lia­ment Baleka Mbete

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