The joint committee on ethics and members’ interests did not investigate whether Baleka Mbete breached the code of conduct for assembly and council members regarding her BEE share deal with Gold Fields, because she wasn’t an MP at the time (in 2010).
Co-chairperson of the ethics committee, Aumsen Singh, confirmed to the Mail & Guardian on Wednesday evening that the committee did not investigate the actual allegation against Mbete because it was out of the committee’s jurisdiction.
“It is out of our jurisdiction because she was not an MP, and we cannot investigate something that happened in 2010 before the committee was established,” he added.
Previously, the ethics committee, under the leadership of ANC veteran Ben Turok would brief journalists on its investigations and findings, but this time around such a briefing was not held, and the committee’s processes could not be interrogated.
The United Democratic Movement’s Bantu Holomisa, who requested the committee to investigate Mbete last month, told the M&G that he is now taking the matter to public protector Thuli Madonsela for a thorough investigation.
— Bantu Holomisa (@BantuHolomisa) November 13, 2014
Holomisa wanted the ethics committee to consider allegations that Mbete may have improperly acquired shares in Gold Fields. He also wanted clarity on whether or not Mbete received two salaries – the lifetime salary from when she was the deputy president of the republic, and a salary from her current position as the speaker of the National Assembly.
The committee also confirmed, in a statement, that Mbete had disclosed her financial interests in Rich Cove Investment as required in terms of the joint rules of Parliament. On the matter of receiving two salaries, the committee was satisfied that Mbete, who confirmed this in writing, was receiving only one salary.
“I’m not surprised, as you know who is dominating the committee. But no one will complain and say we didn’t follow the procedures.
“Even in my original letter, I did say if they don’t have the powers to deal with the matter, I will refer it to the public protector, whom I’m sure will have more powers and can subpoena anybody,” Holomisa said. “That’s where we are heading to now,” he added.
The M&G reported in September 2013 that US investigators found that a R25-million share handout to Mbete constituted corruption by Gold Fields, which then buried those findings.
The New York law firm found that the share allocation to Mbete, who is the ANC’s national chairperson, constituted bribery. The law firm, which was commissioned by Gold Fields itself, found that the South African mining house had hugely increased Mbete’s cut in a contentious 2010 empowerment deal in response to an alleged threat by her representative.