MPs face reprimand for missing declaration deadline

MPs, including at least one Cabinet minister, are to be named and shamed for failing to disclose their business interests on time, Parliament's ethics committee said on Wednesday.

The 2013 Register of Members' Interests was released during a committee meeting. It lists the business interests, sponsorships, gifts, property, travel, pensions and other financial interests of MPs.

During the meeting, it emerged that 59 MPs had missed the August 23 deadline. Parliament's members' interests registrar Faziela Mahomed said there were a further three MPs who had not handed in their disclosure forms at all.

They included two MPs who were ill, and disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule, who was suspended from Parliament before the deadline.

Mahomed recommended to the committee that the three be given an extension to complete their forms. The other 59 politicians would not be given any grace, with MPs from all parties wanting them to be sanctioned for the late disclosures.

The ANC's Gerhard Koornhof said all MPs had been sent letters and text messages reminding them to submit their disclosure forms before the deadline. "The 59 that did not submit in time, I propose that their names be published in the announcements, tablings and committee reports," said Koornhof said.

The announcements, tablings and committee reports is a parliamentary document published daily.

Flex its muscles
Democratic Alliance MP Anchen Dreyer agreed and said the ethics committee had to flex its muscles in dealing with noncompliant MPs. "I'm taking a tougher line … in the case of ex-minister Pule. She was suspended three days before the deadline, but she's known all along the deadline is coming," said Dreyer.

"It's ironic that the very case for which she appeared [before the committee on misconduct charges] had dealt with her wrongful submission on members' interests."

On Pule's nonsubmission, committee chairperson Ben Turok said he was not as focused on her missing the deadline. "The issue for us is, is she going to comply honestly? Whether it's a week later or a week earlier is of little interest. What interests me is, is she going to tell us the truth?" Turok said.

Pule was suspended from Parliament in August after the ethics committee found she had failed to declare that her romantic partner Phosane Mngqibisa materially benefited from the sponsorship of last year's information and communications technology event, the ICT Indaba, which her department hosted in Cape Town.

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Koos van der Merwe defended Pule, saying the matter was "buried" and that words like dishonesty should not be used as she was an "honourable member and we must accept her integrity".

He was not so kind when it came to the MPs who missed the disclosure deadline. "I think the chair of the committee should write to each one of the 59 reading them the riot act," Van der Merwe said.

Turok's co-chairperson Lemias Mashile said that instead of writing to the MPs, he would insist that Parliament's presiding officers reprimand them.

Mahomed told the committee she had heard from a male Cabinet minister who was among those who had sent in their disclosure form late. She did not name him. "We received a letter saying that he had not received the form … He was just very furious and he wanted us to prove [that we sent him the disclosure form]," Mahomed said.

ANC MP Modjadji Mangena said this was no excuse for making a late disclosure. "Every year, Sars [South African Revenue Service] doesn't write letters, but you know you are suppose to submit those [tax return] forms. Why can't they [MPs] learn without being told that we are supposed to do this? Even that, minister, I'm sorry to say that he is lying." – Sapa

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