Dina Pule must be barred from holding public political office and the ANC must force her to step aside, says the writer.

Former communications minister Dina Pule must be barred from holding public political office and the ANC must force her to step aside, says Moshoeshoe Monare.

Johannesburg - Former communications minister Dina Pule must be barred from holding public political office and the ANC must force her to step aside. A parliamentary ethics committee has found that Pule “wilfully misled” Parliament’s ethics committee by denying her sexual relationship with a man who benefited from her department’s multi-million-rand indaba.

Misleading Parliament should be considered an ultimate offence punishable by a life ban on holding such office. Technically, this could be done. In terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, “a person may not by fraud… influence a member in the performance of the member’s functions as a member”.

The same act says “the fact that the standing committee is enquiring into a matter or that a House has taken disciplinary action against a member does not preclude criminal investigation or proceedings against the member in connection with the matter concerned”.

At least we jailed former ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni for “defrauding Parliament” after lying about the discount he received on his SUV.

He pleaded guilty to fraud and admitted his misrepresentation was made with the intent to defraud Parliament. Pule must face a similar fate. If she is charged, found guilty and sent to jail for more than a year without option of a fine, she will be constitutionally barred from being an MP.

In the meantime, the ANC must stop its disingenuous double standards and force Pule to step down.

Its terse statement on Pule is a duplicitous contrast to the statement it made against former Limpopo MEC Mirriam Sekgabutla, who is facing criminal charges. On Pule, the ANC caucus said: “We will await the decision of Parliament on the report and its recommendations. The ANC will never condone any act of ill-discipline, misconduct and impropriety.”

On Sekgabutla, the party was firmer. “Whilst acknowledging that Cde Mirriam remains innocent until proven guilty, the charges levelled against her have the potential to harm the image and standing of the ANC in its fight against crime and corruption… It is in this context that the 53rd National Conference resolved that those who are facing serious criminal charges should on their own volition, in keeping with the core values of the ANC, step aside from participating in any ANC leadership positions and occupying public office pending the outcome of the court proceedings.”

Granted, Pule is not facing any criminal charges, but she was found guilty of the most serious parliamentary offence. She’s most likely to face criminal charges.

The ANC must treat Parliament and other public institutions with the same respect. When the ANC was vacillating on the Yengeni matter a decade ago, it took former Speaker of the National Assembly Frene Ginwala to remind the ruling party MPs: “It’s time the South African public realised that some people in this Parliament take the institution very seriously, and let us see how many.”

Pule violated her oath of undertaking to “hold my office… with honour and dignity; to be a true and faithful counsellor”. She does not deserve to call herself a representative of the people of South Africa.

* Moshoeshoe Monare is editor of the Sunday Independent.

Sunday Independent