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Durban - The ANC wants Durban MP Dianne-Kohler Barnard removed from Parliament’s ethics committee, claiming that she breached her oath of confidentiality over the disgracing of Dina Pule.
But the fiery MP has rejected the charge, is consulting a lawyer, and on Friday declared the attempt to oust her as “libellous”.
ANC chief whip Stone Sizani has written to the Speaker seeking an investigation into the DA MP’s postings on Facebook on proceedings against the former communications minister.
After the ethics panel’s hearings and damning findings, Pule was publicly rebuked, and apologised to Parliament on Tuesday.
Sizani said Kohler-Barnard had violated her oath of confidentiality and the ethical code of conduct “by disclosing sensitive information to her friends on social media” during the course of Pule hearings.
He cited a column in The Post of August 14, written by Nazareen Ebrahim, one of Kohler-Barnard’s Facebook followers.
Ebrahim wrote that Pule “nearly ‘Puled’ the wool” over Parliament’s Ethics Committee’s eyes.
“Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard provided informative enough updates about the matter through Facebook posts,” she said.
These passages were quoted by Sizani in his indictment of Kohler-Barnard.
Sizani said the parliamentary code of conduct enjoined all MPs and staff on the committee to take an oath of confidentiality.
He said the code further stated that members who breached were liable to a reduction of 30 days’ salary and became ineligible to serve on the Committee.
“By disclosing information pertaining to the proceedings of the confidential hearing on social media, Ms Kohler Barnard violated the ethics code, undermined the integrity of the process and brought the institution into disrepute.
“We have therefore asked that the Speaker’s Office investigate the MP’s improper conduct, penalise her and remove her from the ethics committee. 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.”
Sizani note that the complaint did not change the ANC’s “stated strong position on the former minister’s conduct and our support for the outcome of the hearing”.
He said an ANC caucus meeting on Thursday reaffirmed the party’s full support for the speedy conclusion of the ethics code review process to, among things, make sanctions harsher.
Kohler-Barnard said she was seeking a legal opinion and the ANC statement was libellous.
“They have outright accused me of transgressing the ethics code. It is not even an allegation according to the ANC.”
Kohler-Barnard said she had spent two hours on Thursday night trawling her Facebook and Twitter sites for any postings she had been accused of making.
“There isn’t a single one. I did not even mention if or when I was attending the ethics committee meetings,” she said.
“The only mention of Pule was a week after she had been found guilty on all counts except the red-soled shoes.”
She said at every ethics committee meeting, all cellphones and computers had to be switched off.
“I have served on this committee for seven years. I know the rules. I am just an easy target. It’s typical behaviour by the ANC to try and shift the focus from Pule to me.”
Kohler-Barnard said she had more than 9 000 followers on Twitter and Facebook and would never be “stupid enough” to breach such codes.