File photo: Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Pretoria -

The Cabinet has finally approved amendments to the Executive Members’ Ethics Code - four years after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela recommended the changes “to address all uncertainties or anomalies”.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe made the announcement in the National Assembly on Wednesday where he faced a series of questions from curious MPs.

Cope’s Juli Kilian expressed her frustrations at the delays in the amendments to the ethics code. It sets out the process to be followed in dealing with the conduct of the president and members of his executive.

Motlanthe said: “We have previously reported on the processes which cabinet has undertaken in discussing the matter of amendments to executive members ethics code. Cabinet has had numerous discussions on this matter and I can now report that on December 4, 2013, the amendments… were approved by cabinet,” said Motlanthe.

He said the amended code was then referred to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, as the lead department “to embark on its internal processes”.

“As soon as those are completed the code will be submitted to Parliament,” he added.

Motlanthe maintained that the fact the matter had taken this long to be submitted to Parliament was “regrettable”.

“We can’t fudge that part of it. But that’s how democratic processes take long, because cabinet discussed it and debated it and eventually those discussions were concluded on December 4 last year.”

Kilian welcomed the announcement, but expressed her regret about the delay. “This goes to the heart of our constitutional foundation and founding principles which is to establish an accountable, responsive government. We are now happy to know that it was tabled and adopted by cabinet,” Kilian said.

“As we all know we’re moving towards an election and after election there will in all probability be a new cabinet they will then want to review it. Minister of justice and constitutional development has not moved on this for four years now since the tabling of the public protector report - that is simply not good enough.”

IFP MP Koos van der Merwe said the fact that the matter has been delayed for four years “raises implications”.

“Why really? Is it because the executive wants to protect themselves or what? It raises very suspicious questions. And I want to tell you that this is a bad story of the ANC,” said Van Der Merwe.

In 2010, Madonsela’s released a report into an alleged breach of the Executive Ethics Code by President Jacob Zuma.

The report had recommended that Parliament “consider an amendment… to address all uncertainties or anomalies, including the issue regarding the office of person to whom a report involving the ethical conduct of the president should be submitted by the public protector”.

At the height of the controversy around her leaked Nkandla provisional report, Madonsela said she didn’t know where and to whom her final report should be sent. She later said “the non-existence in law of a competent authority to take action against the president in the event an investigation conducted by a public protector in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Act necessitates the need for such action”. - Pretoria News