FIGHTING: ANC MP Pule Mabe won't take the sanction lying down.
ANC MP Pule Mabe isn’t going down without a fight after he was fined 15 days of his salary and reprimanded for flouting the members’ code of conduct this week.

On Saturday he vowed to take the findings against him on review, saying he was “erroneously” found guilty, a verdict that he believes impugns his character.

The sanction, by Parliament’s joint committee on ethics and members’ interests, followed the release of then-public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into allegations of maladministration at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

It was alleged that Mabe’s company, KG Media, was improperly awarded a contract by Prasa to produce Hambanathi magazine and that the contract was unlawfully extended.

It was further alleged that Mabe, the former executive corporate affairs manager at Prasa, was improperly paid a salary after his resignation from Prasa in 2008/2009, according to the committee’s report.

The code of conduct for MPs prohibits parliamentarians from “receiving any benefit including, but not limited to, a tender or a contract with an organ of state”.

They are also required to declare their directorships in any institutions.

In their final report, committee co-chairpersons Amos Masondo and Omie Singh found that Mabe still held shares in Kedibone Trust, which held 100% of KG Media shares, and that he had benefited from the renewal of the Prasa contract with KG Media in March 2015.

Mabe was sworn-in as a member of Parliament in 2014.

An estimated 15 days of his salary amounts to half his monthly remuneration, totalling more than R40 000.

Ordinary members of parliament earn R1.03million a year, or R85833 a month.

On Saturday, Mabe said he found it strange that he was found guilty as he held his business interests in KG Media before he became an MP.

The committee had itself acknowledged this fact, he added.

“It must be placed on record that I have never sought to hide any of my business dealings with private and public sector institutions prior to occupying public office.

“I have always made myself available to clarify any issues relating to my previous activities as I have always conducted myself transparently, away from any suspicious conduct,” he said.

More worrying, he said, was that since Madonsela had recommended - as part of her remedial measures - the setting aside of the extension of the partnership between KG Media and Prasa, KG Media had not benefited in any way.

“To this end, KG Media has never, since the extension of the contract, accrued any material (gain).”

Mabe said that while he had the highest regard for the committee, if it did not subject its latest findings implicating him to a review process it could set a dangerous precedent for members of Parliament to be being unfairly targeted.

“This point was clearly made to the ethics committee, which means to find me guilty on a technicality was an academic exercise since the matter (the extension of the contract) was set aside by the public protector."

He said subjecting the findings to review would “allow for fairness and further grant me sufficient space to ventilate on the issues in question”.

Mabe cautioned against using the parliamentary process to serve particular moral and political narratives.

“We should also be careful not to fall into a desperate trap of punishing comrades so that we appear to be fighting misconduct even where it is clearly not proven.

“All that we are doing in such actions is to unintentionally assassinate the character of individual comrades and entrench a narrative that there are two streams in the movement, one of moralists and the other of questionable individuals,” he said.

Sunday Independent