Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, said a draft lifestyle audit framework has been produced and consultation had been undertaken and was ongoing.
THE MINISTER in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, said on Thursday that the much anticipated lifestyle audits for ministers and their deputies would be conducted before the financial year ends in March.
Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, Mthembu said a draft lifestyle audit framework has been produced and consultation had been undertaken and was ongoing.
“We are confident that after the conclusion of the consultations, lifestyle audits will be undertaken,” he said.
Mthembu, however, pointed out that the absence of a lifestyle audit didn’t mean that the members of the executive did not declare their financial interests.
“We have indicated that members of the executive, not non-availability of lifestyle audits, are enjoined by our Constitution and laws of the country to declare all financial interests. On an annual basis we do declare as members of the executive. The absence of lifestyle audits does not take away that members must be ethical and must act ethically at all times.”
Asked why it had taken longer than expected, Mthembu said it was very important that everybody was taken on board so that whatever was done did not contradict the rights all South Africans enjoy, including members of the executive.
“That is why the necessity for consultation; and that’s why the necessity for a framework all of us should agree on. Our commitment to introduce lifestyle audits for members of the executive will be concluded long before the end of the financial year,” Mthembu added.
He added that he is confident that President Cyril Ramaphosa would take the country into his confidence on how to take the process forward after the consultations.
Asked if the ministers would not hide their financial interests through proxies, Mthembu said that the ANC had at its 2017 conference decided that public representatives be subjected to lifestyle audits.
“We are all, as members of the executive, led by the president and are committed to lifestyle audits and that is why we consult on the lifestyle audit framework,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa will be signing the last batch of performance agreements with ministers and their deputies today.
Mthembu confirmed that Ramaphosa did not meet his deadline to finalise and publish performance agreements due to a change of priorities when the country was hit by Covid-19.
“All arrangements were in place for ministers to sign their performance agreements by mid-March in 2020. We were ready,” he said.
Mthembu said the pandemic had resulted in changes in the priorities of the government, something that resulted in halting the signing of the agreements.
“The president has indeed commenced with signing of performance agreements and we started on October 16. We are finalising the signing of performance agreements with the president tomorrow, Friday, October 30, 2020.
“The president will make a pronouncement thereafter regarding this matter.”