Former mineral resources minister and ANC MP Mosebenzi Zwane has been found guilty again for contempt of Parliament for refusing to apologise to the national legislature despite being ordered to do so twice.
Acting chairperson of the powers and privileges committee Manketsi Tlhape said the committee found Zwane guilty of conduct constituting contempt of Parliament for failing to obey the resolution of the National Assembly at its sittings in May 2023 and September 2023.
Tlhape said Zwane’s conduct was referred to the committee by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula after he failed to enter an apology in the National Assembly for contravening the code of ethics.
“Mr Zwane pleaded not guilty to the charge of contempt of Parliament for failing to appear before the National Assembly during both sittings.
“He gave reasons for his failure to appear before the National Assembly on the two occasions; however, no evidence was presented to the committee to that effect,” she said.
The disciplinary hearing’s initiator, advocate Zuko Mapoma, had proposed a sanction to dock 50% of Zwane’s monthly salary and for him to enter an apology in the National Assembly by no later than March 29.
“The committee agreed with the sanction proposed by the initiator and resolved that the sanction will be effective from 1 March 2024,” Tlhape said.
Zwane’s troubles stemmed from the joint ethics and members’ interests committee’s initial finding that he contravened the code of ethical conduct and disclosure of members’ interests.
This was after a complaint was lodged in 2017 by DA MP James Lorimer and Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse for the breach of the MPs’ code when he was still a minister.
The committee also considered the Zondo Commission report that was forwarded to it by Mapisa-Nqakula.
The allegations covered his conduct and benefits he received from the Guptas while he was a minister.
In their report, committee co-chairperson Bekizwe Nkosi and Lydia Moshodi found that Zwane received benefits and hospitality from the Guptas that were not disclosed.
They also said Zwane abused his role on the inter-ministerial committee when he issued a press statement on the closure of Gupta bank accounts that brought the executive and Parliament into disrepute.
On the allegation that Zwane misled or lied in his responses to parliamentary questions, the committee did not make a finding.
“The questions and answer sessions were dealt with in the National Assembly. An allegation that the member misled the National Assembly in his answers falls to be adjudicated by the National Assembly in terms of the rules of the House.”
But, the committee had found that Zwane did not act with the public trust placed in him.
“In this regard the member failed to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in him and failed to maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament and thereby engender the respect and confidence that society needs to have in Parliament as a representative institution.”
The committee recommended that his salary be docked for five days for not disclosing the benefits and hospitality he received.
They had recommended that Zwane must enter an apology to the House for abusing his role on the inter-ministerial committee for issuing the press statement on the closure of Gupta bank accounts and appointing advisers who were business partners to the Guptas.
The ethics committee also recommended “that the member be suspended from his seat in parliamentary debates for one parliamentary term”.