Cape Town - Secretaries, personal assistants and parliamentary staff members are expected to take an oath of secrecy to avoid any possible leaks in Parliament’s investigation of 20 EFF MPs.
Breaching the confidentiality agreement could end in dismissal for any official.
But it would be up to individual MPs to ensure their support staff take an oath of secrecy to avoid any unwanted leaks.
Lemias Mashile, the chairman of Parliament’s powers and privileges committee, said secretaries and officials were not being gagged or censored, and that the process was merely a procedural matter.
When the committee met on Monday for the second time, the media were allowed to sit in because the committee was dealing with issues already in the public domain.
Future meetings would be closed when the committee dealt with specific charges of members.
“Taking the oath actually gives Parliament the authority to deal with that secretary or whoever if the leak is established to have come through her hand or his hand,” said Mashile.
In terms of “confidential disclosures”, as outlined in Parliament’s Code of Conduct, MPs and staff members were required to take an oath of confidentiality.
Members who were in breach of confidentiality were liable to a reduction of 30 days salary and became ineligible to serve on the committee.
Staff who breached confidentiality were subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.
The powers and privileges committee was set up to investigate whether the conduct of the EFF members involved in the “disruptive actions” constituted contempt of Parliament in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act of 2004.