MP Dalling meets his own inquiry

David Dalling faces possible suspension from the House of Assembly if a select committee finds he breached parliamentary privilege with his allegations about the Munnik Commission.

Late yesterday the House appointed a select committee to investigate whether the Progressive Federal Party MP overstepped his parliamentary rights with his allegations concerning the past financial relationship between the judge president of the Western Cape, Justice Munnik, and Barclays Bank (now First National Bank). If he is found to have breached parliamentary privilege he could be suspended or ordered to apologise.

On the second day of this week’s censure debate Dalling told parliament Munnik had on more than one occasion had his account ”unilaterally” closed by the-then Barclays Bank ”for reasons relating to overdrawn accounts and debt defaults”. For this and other reasons, Munnik should have recused himself from the special commission appointed by President PW Botha to investigate the funding of advertisements which called for the unbanning of the ANC.

Munnik found that Barclays MD Chris Ball, who authorised an overdraft, had known it would be used to pay for the ANC advertisements. Amid a chorus of interjections from government benches, Dalling said the Munnik Commission’s report was ”a travesty of justice initiated by the state president”.

The speaker, Louis le Grange, at this point refused to allow him to continue. Several times during Dalling’s speech the speaker called him to order, saying he would not allow parliament to be used to ”smear” the state president and the judge president.

Earlier in his speech, Dalling said he was ”shocked and saddened” that a political dispute between Botha and an opponent had been used to depreciate the tradition of judicial independence. Munnik should have recused himself, he said.

”From the very outset it was clear that this was not a judicial issue involving criminal or civil liability of any sort.” The commission was ”meant to achieve the advantageous resolution of a political dispute, at the time of an election, involving the head of the National Party and one who did not agree with the party”.

The dispute was one which might ”possibly have affected the electoral fortunes of the National Party, certainly within the business community”. The commissioner was ”undeniably a strong supporter of the governing party” and ”a longstanding personal friend of Mr Botha”.

Finally, said Balling, Munnik, ”following defaults of thousands of rands”, had had ”an unhappy relationship with Barclays Bank” and as a result ”had no right to sit on the commission at all”.

The Munnik report was ”laced with unsolicited, gratuitous insults as to Mr Ball’s prudence as a banker, as to the inflated view the commissioner took of his own banking expertise and finally to Mr Ball’s personal integrity”.

The minister of justice, Kobie Coetsee, said after Dalling sat down that his speech had been scandalous. He accused the PFP of indulging in ”gutter politics of the worst sort”.

 

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