ANC MP Pule Mabe denied there was a rift among ANC members in the committee. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko
Cape Town – The ANC has denied there was a rift among its members in Parliament over the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill (Fica), saying the legislation was necessary.

This came as members of the study group of the ANC in the finance committee were disputing claims of divisions.

The contentious bill has been in the National Assembly for a few weeks now after President Jacob Zuma returned it to Parliament because of concerns on warrantless searches.

The ANC’s stance in the committee on Wednesday came as the Banking Association of South Africa (Basa) urged MPs to pass the bill and send it to Zuma for signing into law.

Basa managing director Cas Coovadia said the bill met constitutional muster, and that this had been confirmed by senior counsels.

There was no need for further discussions on the bill and Parliament had to send it back to Zuma.

During deliberations in the committee, ANC MP Pule Mabe denied there was a rift among ANC members in the committee.

He said the party would continue to be in charge of the country, and anyone who suggested otherwise was wrong.

“The ANC study group is not divided because of the essence of this legislation. The ANC is a leader of society and it will continue to lead,” said Mabe.

He was backed by another ANC MP, Thandi Tobias-Pokolo, who said the party was united, and the bill was addressing areas of concern raised by the public.

The ANC MPs denied there was infighting and said the bill was processed in accordance with the prescripts of the law and Parliament.

Mabe also attacked the EFF and said it was using the bill to campaign. This was after EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu accused the Black Business Council and Progressive Professional Forum of trying to force Parliament to scrap it.

Shivambu said the submissions made by the two organisations last week were attempts to strong-arm the legislature.

He said Parliament would not do things which were against the constitution.

But Mabe dismissed this, saying the EFF was trying to use the bill to get votes. “People are using this as a campaigning ticket. The constitution of this country gives everyone a right. An important issue like the Fica Bill must not be used for political expediency.”

Deputy director-general in the National Treasury Ismail Momoniat told the committee the fight against financial crimes predated the Fica Bill.

The first Fica Bill was approved by Parliament in 2003, and amendments were brought a few years later. “The Fica Bill deals with laundering proceeds of crime. It is targeted at protecting the integrity of the South African financial system.”

Political Bureau