ANC wants Kohler Barnard off ethics committee

Newly elected ANC chief whip Stone Sizani has written to the speaker's office to have Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dianne Kohler Barnard, the shadow minister of police, investigated and removed from the committee for disclosing information to friends on social networks during former communications minister Dina Pule's hearing.

"Our complaint against Kohler Barnard's conduct and our call for her removal from the committee does not in any way change our stated strong position on the former minister's conduct and our support for the outcome of the hearing. The ANC caucus meeting that sat this morning reaffirmed the ANC's full support for the speedy conclusion of the ethics code review process to, amongst others, make sanctions harsher."

Kohler Barnard, who formed part of the recent parliamentary ethics committee that found Pule guilty of misleading parliament, released a statement earlier in the month labelling such advances as a continuation of an ongoing battle between herself and the ANC over the matter of Pule.

"During the hearings I was accused of breaching the ethics code. However, I was cleared of any wrongdoing by the committee. This is despite the long and concerted campaign of attacks waged on me. I had refused to even comment to the media on this matter at the time this campaign was launched, in terms of our oath," Kohler Barnard said.

Sizani says one of Kohler Barnard's Facebook followers indicated in an article in the August 14 edition of the Post that the shadow minister regularly posted updates on the proceedings of the hearing. The article says: "Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard provided informative enough updates about the matter [of how the former minister 'nearly pulled the wool over the ethics committee's eyes'] through Facebook posts."

The parliamentary code of conduct enjoins all members of Parliament and staff serving on the committee to take an oath of confidentiality. The code further states that members who are in breach of confidentiality are liable to a reduction of 30 days salary and become ineligible to serve on the committee.

Staff members who breach confidentiality are subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal. By disclosing information pertaining to the proceedings of the confidential hearing on social media, Kohler Barnard violated the ethics code, undermined the integrity of the process and brought the institution into disrepute.

"The DA has a responsibility to ensure that MPs it deploys to this crucial committee are responsible and conduct themselves in accordance with the code. MPs who serve on this committee must lead by example," said Sizani.

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