Winnie found guilty by ethics committee

ANC MP Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has been found guilty by her peers in Parliament of failing to disclose donations and some of her financial interests in the register of members’ interests.

Members of Parliament’s ethics committee met on Tuesday and unanimously agreed that she should receive a severe reprimand by National Assembly speaker Dr Frene Ginwala in the House, informed sources told Sapa.

However, sources differed on whether Madikizela-Mandela would also be fined 15 days of her parliamentary salary.

Parliament’s rules apparently does not allow for stricter sanctions, including suspension from Parliament.

Ethics committee chairman Luwellyn Landers (ANC) would not divulge details of the committee’s findings, saying that Madikizela-Mandela had to be informed first, and not through the media.

An official announcement would be made on Thursday when the committee meets at 9.30am, he said.

Madikizela-Mandela snubbed a special panel set up by the committee to investigate allegations against her on at least two occasions.

In what one MP described as yet another contemptuous letter to the committee, Madikizela-Mandela provided a doctor’s certificate dated August 14, but backdated to June 12, as an explanation for her absence.

Madikizela-Mandela is rarely seen in Parliament, and is notorious for her absenteeism.

The committee found that she had failed to disclose donations of R50 000 a month, which she had outlined in a sworn statement during a bail application. The ANC Women’s League president is standing trial on fraud and theft charges involving nearly R1-million.

The committee also found that Madikizela-Mandela had failed to disclose financial interests in the Mandela Family Museum.

MPs are required in terms of Parliament’s code of conduct to disclose, among other things, gifts and donations of more than R350, as well as financial interests outside Parliament.

The committee also decided to investigate more claims that Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mandla Msomi failed to disclose his financial interests in the register.

He was being investigated by the committee for allegedly failing to disclose substantial discounts on two luxury vehicles bought from a defence company.

He appeared before the committee and denied the allegations.

However, the committee has subsequently received correspondence, including copies of cheques allegedly to Msomi, indicating that he may have benefited from other financial interests which he failed to disclose.

Claims that former ANC Chief Whip Tony Yengeni failed to disclose that his legal fees and a newspaper advertisement was paid for by his acquaintances, and that he had also failed to declare shares in a company, have been put on hold since the matter applies to the register of interests for 2002.

About 30 MPs had yet to disclose their interests for 2002 and have been given seven days to get their records in order.

Yengeni is apparently among them. It remained to be seen whether he will disclose the information and whether further action had to be taken, a source said.

Madikizela-Mandela’s office said the ANC MP was not immediately available for comment.

ANC Chief Whip Nathi Nhleko is on record as saying that in terms of an ANC national executive committee decision, the party’s national leadership was dealing separately with her absenteeism, her snubbing of Parliament’s ethics committee, and “broader issues relating to her situation”.

“It’s an issue that has been left up to national leadership to engage with, and sort out and then report accordingly… We will always be directed by those particular deliberations,” he reportedly said.
- Sapa

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