What the Executive Members' Ethics Act says

Published May 24, 2009


What did Transport Minister and former KwaZulu-Natal premier S'bu Ndebele had to consider when he received the gift of a Mercedes-Benz S500, as well as cattle, petrol vouchers, plasma TV, etc?

The Executive Members' Ethics Act regulates probity in public life. The code provides, among other things, that cabinet ministers must act to the satisfaction of the president, in good faith and in the best interest of good governance.

They must also act in all respects in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of their office of government.

It specifically provides that cabinet ministers may not "expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and their financial and/or personal interests".

Under "gifts", the code states that a cabinet minister, premier or MEC may not solicit or accept a gift or benefit which is:

- In return for any benefit received from the member in that member's official capacity;

- Constitutes improper influence on the member; or,

- Constitutes an attempt to influence the member in the performance of the member's duties.

Where a member, in the course of his or her duties, has received or has been offered a gift with a value of more than R1&nbdp;000, the member must request permission from the president or premier, as the case may be, to retain or accept the gift.

This does not include travel facilities or hospitality arising from attendance at meals, functions, meetings, cocktail parties, conventions, conferences or similar events attended by the member as part of his/her executive duties.

If the permission is granted, the member may retain or accept the gift, but must disclose particulars thereof in the register of executive members' interests. It has a public and confidential portion.

Where such permission has not been granted, the member must:

- Return the gift or decline the offer; or,

- Donate the gift to the state.

Interests that must be disclosed in the register include financial sponsorships, gifts, hospitality benefits, land and immovable property and pensions.

Under "gifts and hospitality" (other than those received from a spouse or permanent companion or family member), the member must include a description, including the value, source and date of any:

- Gift with a value of more than R500;

- Hospitality intended as a personal gift and with a value of more than R500; and,

- Hospitality intended as a gift and received from a single source, and which cumulatively exceeds the value of R500 in any year.

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