MPs who tried to cover their assets

A number of senior MPs, including Joyce Kgoali, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), and African National Congress chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, have business interests they have not declared to Parliament, as required by law.

In some instances, the companies in question are doing business with the government or are planning to do so.

This was revealed by a Mail & Guardian search on the business interests of the 400 National Assembly members and 90 NCOP members this week.

Some parliamentarians admitted they had failed to disclose their interests, but most insisted they did not benefit financially from the companies or said the companies were not yet operational.

Parliament’s Code of Conduct requires all MPs to disclose all shares and directorships.
A note on Parliament’s website says: “MPs are in a powerful position to influence high-level decision-making. There may be times when their personal or business interests conflict with their role as elected officials representing the public interests.

“MPs are expected to register their financial interests in Parliament and those of their spouses, dependants and permanent companions every year,” the note reads.

The M&G found that ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe has undeclared interests in a fishing company and a construction company. It appears that the construction firm, Ubunye Construction, is not active. But Goniwe this week admitted that the fishing concern, Gwebindlala Fishing, was planning to apply for fishing quotas from the government.

Goniwe became a director of Gwebindlala in July last year. Asked to explain his failure to declare this in both the 2003 and 2004 Register of Members’ Interests, he said: “So what? I’m not going to take this shit of yours any more. I may have special reasons that made me not declare. Maybe I wanted to take a different direction in my business.”

Asked whether as chief whip of the ruling party, he should not set an example, he said: “I find that completely vindictive. I only became chief whip this year”.

Other senior MPs found to have undeclared interests were:

  • Joyce Kgoali, NCOP chairperson, who failed to declare that she is a director of Allpay Gauteng, the company which distributes social grants to more than 1,8-million beneficiaries in the province. Kgoali, Gauteng’s minister of transport between 1994 and 1999, was appointed chairperson of the NCOP this year.

    Allpay is a joint venture between Absa and two empowerment entities, Ndumo Holdings and Sediba Sa Basadi Trust. Kgoali declared that she is a trustee of Sediba, but the M&G has established that she failed to disclose a monthly stipend of R2 500 she receives from Sediba.

    As Allpay reports on its performance to Parliament, Kgoali’s direct involvement raises conflict-of-interest questions. Kgoali is in Canada and her office could not comment at the time of going to press.

  • Susan Shabangu, Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, has an undeclared interest in a company called Western Ocean. According to the company’s chief executive, Eric Zwane, Shabangu holds 10% of the company, which is pursuing investments in the manufacturing sector and currently working on a R200-million tyre recycling deal with a German firm.

    The deal, Zwane said, has the backing of the parastatal Industrial Development Corporation and private funders. He added that the company would build a manufacturing plant in the East Rand next year, creating more than 350 jobs.

    Zwane said he had not recruited Shabangu because of her ministerial status, but because she “shared his vision of creating jobs on the East Rand”. He added that he had met the deputy minister during the struggle against apartheid.

    Shabangu had assured him that she had declared her interest in Western Ocean. “My understanding is that she did declare. I said to her that if you come on board, you must declare. I’m a seasoned banker and I’m very tough on issues of corporate governance.” 

    Several attempts to obtain Shabangu’s comment proved fruitless.

  • Ngoako Ramatlhodi, former premier of Limpopo, failed to declare his directorships in three companies:  Platinum Mile Investments, Afflux Trading and Michmel. Ramatlhodi told the M&G he had sold Michmel, a butchery. He said he had forgotten Platinum Mile and Afflux — the former registered last year April and the latter in June 2002 —when he made his declaration.

    Asked whether Platinum Mile and Afflux were trading, Ramatlhodi said: “I don’t think they ever traded. I suppose I started those companies when I was preparing to leave office.”

    Ramatlhodi declared two properties in Limpopo, but failed to declare a R1,3-million farm in Pretoria, Valley Farm, which he acquired in July last year. Asked about this, he insisted that he had declared the Pretoria property in the confidential section of the register, which is intended for the interests of spouses and dependants and sensitive information such as home addresses.

    “I declared it as a home. I live there full-time and that is my reason for not declaring it,” he said.

  • United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa; Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology; and Deputy Communications Minister Roy Padayachie fall into the category of MPs who failed to make a full declaration.

    Hanekom failed to declare his interest in a coffee shop in the 2004 register, but did declare it last year. He said he had transferred the coffee shop to his nephew, but this is not reflected in company records.

    Holomisa failed to declare his directorship in Maths 3000, but did declare a directorship in PMG Square Education, which is linked with Maths 3000.

    “As far as Math 3000 is concerned, I was told that the company would be wound down, and I never attended any board meetings, nor received any benefits or remuneration,” Holomisa said. “I took it for granted that the company had been deregistered, and therefore I had no interest in declaring.”

    Padayachie declared his directorship in Raffles Health Racquet and Fitness Club and Triveni Property Investments, but has interests in a number of companies which he did not disclose. The register of companies shows he is a director of Satellite International Property Developers and Estate Agents, Satellite Accounting and Secretariat Services, and Satellite International Insurance Brokers and Financial Consultants.

    Asked why he did not make a full declaration, Padayachie said he was not certain the undeclared companies still existed. “The companies were dormant 10 years ago. In fact, I would not have remembered had you not called me,” he said.

  • Nomatyala Hangana, Deputy Minister of Provincial and Local Government, has been director of Balsas Management since 1999 but has not declared this. Xolani Xundu, Hangana’s spokesperson, said Hangana was “a bit surprised that she is still listed as one of the directors”.

    Xundu said although Hangana “must have attended about three  meetings”, the company did not take off. “There was an idea to set up a company, but the idea did not work.”

  • Patekile Holomisa, ANC MP and traditional leader, has not declared his directorship in Amafone, a cellular company. Amafone’s current activities are not clear, but Holomisa’s partners in the business include prominent players in the cellular phone industry, including Mark Attieh, chief executive of Smartcall, Vodacom’s pre-paid service provider; and Ahmed Ayob, chief executive of Cointel, a cellular technology company.

    Approached for comment this week, Holomisa said he did not know he was a director of Amafone. “I have been approached by a lot of people in my capacity as president of the Congress of South African Traditional Leaders [Contralesa]. But I am not aware that I am a non-executive director of Amafone. Thanks for letting me know about this; maybe there are some benefits due to me or to the South African Receiver of Revenue.”

  • Lulu Xingwana, Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy, is listed in company registration records as an “active” director of Malibongwe — a Section 21 company which apparently invests in charitable development activities — since 1993. Yvonne Mfolo, Xingwana’s spokesperson, said Xingwana was advised by Parliament’s Registrar “not to declare this, since [Malibongwe] was a non-profit organisation”.

    The M&G has established that Malibongwe took a significant stake in a R860-million black empowerment mining deal which includes Zwelakhe Sisulu’s Savannah Resources and Australian mining giant Aquarius Platinum. Certain aspects of the deal, concluded last December, still need to be approved by Xingwana’s own Department of Minerals and Energy.

    Mfolo admitted Xingwana “is fully conversant” with her department’s role in approving the deal, but insisted there was no conflict of interest.

    Xingwana is not the only MP involved in Malibongwe — other participants who have not declared their interest in it are Nonkumbi Gxowa, Makwena Ngwenya, and Makhosazana Njobe. Gxowa was cited as Malibongwe’s chairperson by Aquarius Platinum when the two entered their mining agreement last December.  

    Despite repeated attempts, Njobe could not be contacted. Ngwenya said she had resigned as a Malibongwe director in 1996.

    Gxowa, a member of Parliament’s foreign and home affairs committees, said: “If you want to speak about Malibongwe, call Malibongwe. I do not talk to newspapers.” She then slammed down the receiver.

    Gxowa also failed to declare her involvement in another company, Chirmat, of which she was appointed director in 1999. The company has exclusive rights to distribute a product called Orlamat Drops, an immune booster, imported from Australia.

    Her co-director, Clive Gullifer, said this week that Gxowa was “not really a director; she was just a friend. We have not bought stock since last year and we are in the process of shutting the business down.”

  • Lloyd Gedye

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