Speaker Baleka Mbete Photo: Masi Losi/ANA
Speaker Baleka Mbete has been cleared by the ethics committee in Parliament for allegedly violating the ethical code for hosting a private function using public funds and paying service providers late.

This followed a complaint by the DA when Mbete hosted a Speaker’s ball in Cape Town after the State of the Nation Address (Sona).

This was the second year in a row that Mbete had hosted the ball. Parliament has in the past two years scrapped functions in belt-tightening measures. This includes the post-Sona event held immediately after the address by the president.

When it emerged early in the year that Mbete would host the ball, it was alleged public funds would be used, but this was denied by Parliament, Mbete and the ANC.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen lodged a complaint with the ethics committee, co-chaired by Lindiwe Maseko and Aum Singh, a few months ago. 

In a report published in Parliament, the ethics committee cleared Mbete of any wrongdoing and said the matter was closed.

The committee said it was alleged that some service providers were not paid for their work at the function and had begun legal proceedings against Mbete.

Steenhuisen had claimed Mbete had brought Parliament into disrepute with her behaviour.

But in her response Mbete denied the allegations made against her by the DA chief whip. She said the event was privately funded and it was running for the second year.

“This function was not initiated, hosted, organised or resourced by Parliament or the Office of the Speaker,” she said.

Mbete later learnt that an events company, managing the function, had not been paid by the organisers. She intervened and resolved the matter, said the report.

Mbete also denied she had brought Parliament into disrepute over the late payment.

The committee found she was not party to the agreement between those involved in organising the function.

“She finds it rather far fetched and irresponsible to suggest that when a problem between two private individuals because of the late payment of a debt, there should be a suggestion that the Speaker has brought the institution into disrepute, thereby destroying public confidence and respect in the institution,” said the report.

Her intervention had saved the day for the affected party, it said.

The committee found that Mbete did not breach the ethical code, as suggested by the DA.

She did not betray public trust and had also intervened when the organisers did not pay the events company on time.

The committee said Mbete was off the hook and the complaint by the DA would no longer be pursued.

Political Bureau