The controversial practice of powerful politicians and their families doing business with the state is likely to come to an end soon.
Parliament will adopt a code of ethical conduct on Tuesday afternoon that will prohibit public representatives, including the state president, and their immediate families from doing business with the state.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani told journalists on Monday that, after the National Assembly has adopted the code of ethical conduct and disclosure of financial interest for Assembly and permanent council members and decided on the date of its implementation, all public representatives will be barred from doing business with the state.
“Once the code has been adopted, all of us are forbidden from doing business with the state, including the president. All of us,” Sizani said.
The code was revised and adopted by the National Council of Provinces on March 17 this year. The Assembly couldn’t adopt it due to its tight schedule before the last parliamentary term came for the May 7 general elections.
MPs must lead by example
Sizani didn’t mention that the code also prohibits public representatives’ immediate family from doing business with the state.
The Mail & Guardian has seen a copy of the revised code, which reads:
- A member [MP] may not receive any benefit, including but not limited to a tender, or a contract with an organ of state;
- A member’s immediate family may not receive any benefit, including but not limited to a tender, or a contract with an organ of state arising out of the relationship with the member or any influence arising out of that relationship; and
- A member’s business partner may not receive any benefit, including but not limited to a tender or any contract with an organ of state arising out of the association with the member or any influence arising from that relationship.
Sizani said the ANC caucus discussed the code at its annual lekgotla, which was held in Parliament over the weekend.
He said the lekgotla supported the code’s objective of promoting ethical conduct among public representatives and thereby ensuring public confidence in Parliament.
“As the majority party in this institution, the ANC has a responsibility to protect the integrity of this important democratic institution and to ensure its MPs lead by example in their conduct and observance of the code.”
Bill applies to civil servants
Sizani said Parliament will also prioritise the passing of the Public Administration and Management (PAM) Bill, which will, among other things, make it illegal for civil servants to do business with the state.
He said the relationship between the Bill and code is important, because the code covers the public representatives of the provincial legislatures and Parliament, including members of the Cabinet.
“You cannot say civil servants cannot do business with the state but allow public representatives to do business with the state.
“The code is very clear. It has been revised and is going to come into effect as soon as it has been passed. If, tomorrow, the House [decides] that it must [come] into effect from the 30th, or first, or whatever date, everybody must be governed by that code.”
The Bill, which was passed by the Assembly earlier this year and sent to Zuma for approval, is being returned to Parliament because due process was not followed.
Sizani said the Bill is important because the state has not been able to respond timeously to the maladministration, corruption and crime taking place, especially in the third sphere of government [local].
“You can identify and see it but you cannot deal with it immediately. So the PAM Bill is trying to fix that particular problem.
“We know there is a need for it so that we can effectively prevent all the activities that are bedevilling service delivery and a flow of money to the poor at that particular level,” he said.
ANC representatives ‘need more money’
Meanwhile, the ANC wants Parliament to change the current parliamentary political party funding model to ensure that parties have enough money to conduct their constituency business effectively, Sizani said on Monday.
He said the amount of money ANC office bearers receive from the public coffers does not match the duties they perform to make the legislature run smoothly.
He said that 60% of the ANC MPs’ work takes place in Parliament. The ANC, as the ruling party, is responsible for additional work.
“Because of that, we don’t only manage our own members, our own conduct, the attendance and their functions in study groups and portfolio committees, we also manage the institution itself,” he said.
Currently Parliament is funding only the traditional functions of a majority party and not the additional responsibilities that they perform. “We are saying funds must follow functions,” he said.
“This has nothing to do with our salaries, it has to do with the work that we do to make this Parliament an efficient place to work,” Sizani said.
The Independent Electoral Commission funds the political parties represented in Parliament to run their organisations. Parliament pays MPs’ salaries.