Cape Town - Parliament is to write to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to ask for an extension to amend the code of conduct for members of the executive after it failed to comply with her remedial action on the state capture report.
This comes with the national legislature under pressure from civil society organisation, the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), which has been requesting an update from Speaker Baleka Mbete on their compliance with the remedial action.
Casac has accused Parliament of deliberate delays in dealing with reports from the office of the public protector.
In her report, then public protector Thuli Madonsela ordered Parliament to review, within 180 days, the Executive Members’ Ethics Act to provide better guidance regarding integrity, including avoidance and management of conflict of interest.
“This should clearly define the responsibilities of those in authority regarding a proper response to whistle-blowing and whistle-blowers.
“Consideration should also be given to a transversal code of conduct for all employees of the state,” Madonsela said in her December 2016 report.
It was not until last week that some serious work pointing to compliance with Madonsela’s remedial action was seen when the justice and correctional services committee considered the action.
This was after the six-month deadline expired despite Mbete having referred the report to the committee in February.
According to a recent statement by Casac, Mbete wrote to the committee again on June 14 after the organisation requested an update on the matter.
During the programming committee on Thursday, the matter again came up for discussion.
Committee chairperson Cedric Frolick said a courtesy call should be made to Mkhwebane to inform her that Parliament was dealing with the matter.
“That is in the spirit of co-operative government,” he said.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu noted that “we missed the deadline and missed other deadlines”.
“We agree with the sentiment expressed by honourable Frolick that as Parliament, we write to the public protector and request an extension so that we are able to deal with this matter,” Mthembu said.
“We think it will be good courtesy, and it will show that we are aware of our constitutional responsibility and are not ignoring the remedial action proposed by the public protector in her report,” he said.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Parliament should be prepared to hold itself accountable.
“There is an accountability problem. The Speaker’s office did its job. In this case it is the chairman of that committee who failed to meet the deadline he set for the Speaker,” he said.
Mthembu said they were quite happy that Frolick was following up on the matter with the committee chairman.
“It might be important to also ask ourselves why it has taken this long even for the committee to get to this matter. That would be very important,” he said.