No punishment for president or Cabinet

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IOL motlanthe june 25

Independent Newspapers

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe File photo: Tracey Adams

Cape Town -

There is no punishment for a president, cabinet member or deputy minister who is found to have transgressed the executive ethics code, which is meant to govern good conduct in public executive office.

The review aimed at fixing this continues.

But in a parliamentary reply on Monday, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said that in May the cabinet had decided that “in the interim... members of the executive, who violate the executive members’ ethics code face similar sanctions as those faced by members of Parliament”.

The review was expected to be completed by September, but it was delayed due to “continuing consultations with stakeholders”, said Motlanthe.

Parliamentarians can be docked up to a month’s salary as a fine, face a ban from Parliament for up to 15 days and also receive a written or public verbal reprimand in the House.

The executive ethics code was gazetted in July 2000 and is applicable to both national and provincial executives.

Like that of Parliament, it sets out annual disclosures of financial interests, including directorships and properties, and requires the declaration of gifts over a certain value.

Unlike Parliament’s code, the executive code has no sanctions.

As ministers and their deputies are also MPs, they fall under both executive and parliamentary ethics codes. But as the president resigns his seat in Parliament after being elected as head of state, the parliamentary ethics code does not apply to him.

Questions over how and who should take action if the public protector found that the president had transgressed the executive ethics code arose in October.

It emerged there was no clarity whether the government had taken steps to correct this, as called for in an April 2010 public protector report which had found that President Jacob Zuma failed to declare his financial interests within the stipulated 60 days of taking office.

Cope MP Julie Kilian, who asked the parliamentary questions of Motlanthe, on Monday said “the fact that they are dragging their feet, shows they are not serious”. Amending the executive ethics code would make sense. “It would indicate the government was serious about fighting corruption,” she added.

In the wake of the public protector’s report, speculation is continuing over how much Zuma knew of the R208 million taxpayer-funded security upgrades at his Nkandla home.

Now the public protector is due to release reports into various ministerial missteps: Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is said to have transgressed on a patrol vessel tender, while former communications minister Dina Pule is facing a reprimand over her conflicts of interest.

Pule, sacked in the most recent Cabinet reshuffle, is still an MP.

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