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20 Oct 2008 13:21
Businessman Hugh Glenister will this week seek an interdict in the Cape High Court to bar MPs investigated for travel fraud by the Scorpions from voting on legislation aimed at disbanding the elite investigative unit.
“We’ve been patient and tried to elicit assurances from either the speaker and the so-called ethics committee that they would instruct MPs to recuse themselves from the matter.
“They have given us enough of a runaround and so I’ve instructed my attorney to take the matter to the Cape High Court,” he said in a statement on Monday.
He said it was outrageous that some MPs were not only trying to “get themselves off the hook from essentially stealing taxpayer money in Travelgate, they [also] now think they don’t have a conflict of interest in voting for the destruction of the organisation”.
An affidavit will be filed on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
In August this year, Glenister told journalists at a Cape Town Press Club lunch that the application to the court would seek to have “220 members, if not more” disqualified—on the grounds of conflict of interest—from voting the Scorpions out of existence.
In that month, his attorney sent two letters to then National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, asking that MPs who had been investigated by the Scorpions in the Travelgate matter recuse themselves from consideration of the two Bills that seek to shut down the unit.
The speaker’s office responded on August 26, effectively rejecting Glenister’s demands.
It sent his lawyers a copy of a letter on the same issue, which Mbete had sent to the Grahamstown-based Public Service Accountability Monitor at the beginning of August.
In that letter, she said: “The parliamentary system has in-built measures for ensuring that individual members’ feelings cannot compromise public interest, and I believe in the system.
“I have however, been informed that there are in any case no members facing prosecution by the Scorpions currently participating in the process.”
She also said it should be noted that members’ right to vote in the Assembly “cannot easily be taken away from them”.—Sapa
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