Report on Mbete and Tsenoli ethics jumped the gun
Re “Speaker, No 2 miss key ethics deadline” (September 23), the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests notes with concern that the integrity of its confidential processes is being undermined by individual(s) with access to information from the office of the registrar of members’ interests.
The leaking and publication of names of parliamentarians alleged to have defaulted, even before the committee had concluded its due diligence process, is unfortunate, as it casts aspersions without basis in fact.
The committee is concluding its process of authenticating certain declarations before submitting its final report to parliament for consideration and action, where necessary. Regarding instances where declarations may have been made after the due date, the committee interrogated each case.
In keeping with the principles of confidentiality and due diligence, the committee [did] not prematurely publish names of those recorded for late compliance as, depending on the circumstances or further submissions, their categorisation might change. This is standard practice and in compliance with the ethics code, and not for fear of embarrassing the speaker and her deputy, as erroneously proposed by your journalist.
We e-mailed this clarification to the reporter, but it was ignored, as it was not consistent with her narrative.
The work of the joint committee is anchored to the integrity of its processes and thorough application of the ethics code. This is made difficult, however, when those with access to its internal documents collude to leak half-baked and inconclusive details. The allegations that names of alleged defaulters were withheld are a pre-emptive strike designed to unfairly question the credibility of the committee’s outcomes.
Both the Speaker, Baleka Mbete, and the deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, like all MPs, have the right to be treated fairly and for their declarations to be processed without fear or favour. The committee is determined to fulfil its obligations with integrity and in strict compliance with the code.
Omie Singh, co-chair of the ethics committee
Mbeki’s missed chances
The past weekend once again came alive for the people of SA because while some were celebrating their various heritages, we also had those who spent their time engaging with the so-called pamphlet released by the former president, Thabo Mbeki, through his foundation.
His critique of the land debate must be welcomed as it provides us with a platform for 1,000 flowers to bloom and 1,000 minds to contend. It is these kinds of debates that will make us reach a proper conclusion as we deal with this big elephant in the room.
However, the former president was not ideologically and pragmatically honest. He failed to point out why “his organisation”, the ANC, was formed in the first place. In the main it was formed because of brutal land dispossession by the whites who formed the Union of SA in 1910. Land was the primary factor in the earlier struggles of the people of SA who realised that without it, they were nothing. But why should we be surprised, because [Mbeki] is the one who coerced us into neo-liberal policies.
He should have attended the ANC conference last December to raise those views. Or he should have just done what is best for the blacks of SA when he had time to do so during his two terms of office.
Tom Mhlanga, Braamfontein.
Joint action for safety
The Constitutional Court ruling on cannabis is one of the most effective since democracy in 1994. Literally overnight, SA has become less harmful to its citizens. Indeed, the most harmful thing about cannabis is being arrested for it.
I should know. I was a candidate property valuer before I was given a criminal record, which meant I could no longer attest to valuation reports in court. My struggle to set the matter aside continues. However, I am considerably more optimistic because of the court’s ruling and expect that SA’s social climate will stabilise. Away with naysayers; we must all play our part in ensuring a safer world for all.
K Govender, chair of KBC Springhaven seed bank & harm reduction NPO, Pietermaritzburg
Love, memory and money
I read “General’s lover finds him, then loses him” (September 23), with interest. The same happened to me — my life partner contracted Alzheimer’s and was summarily removed from my care and all communication was stopped.
I am not allowed to visit her. The excuse was that they could better care for her; the reason according to most people I have spoken to is money. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, this often happens, especially as in my case where my partner had accumulated a little wealth.
There are two legislative changes that would make this less likely; recognition of civil unions and removing the complex and expensive requirement for a curator.
David Everett, Modderfontein
Speed up punishment
Crimes against women and children have increased dramatically during the recent past. This situation must be tackled before it is too late. The public and students in particular should be educated to respect the sanctity of life and individual liberty.
The government and the judiciary are to be blamed [because] delay in meting out punishment emboldens wrongdoers.
Nasiff Kader, Pietermaritzburg
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