Home South African Lifestyle audits loom for top brass in Parliament

Lifestyle audits loom for top brass in Parliament

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The recommendation comes hot on the heels of the resignation of former National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula a day after she lost her court bid to stop her arrest in connection with allegations of corruption.

Committee co-chairperson Bekizwe Nkosi made recommendations after the committee reviewed the 2014 code of ethical conduct and disclosure of members’ interests.

THE top brass of Parliament’s political leadership are scheduled to undergo a lifestyle audit in the seventh national legislature following the general elections on May 29.

This emerged from the review of the joint committee on ethics and members’ interests after reviewing the code of ethical conduct for MPs in both the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

In their report tabled to the Houses, committee co-chairpersons Bekizwe Nkosi and Lydia Moshodi made recommendations after the committee reviewed the 2014 code of ethical conduct and disclosure of members’ interests.

Nkosi and Moshodi recommended the introduction of lifestyle audits for the top political leadership in Parliament.

“Lifestyle audits will be risk based and not all disclosures will be audited,” reads their report.

The recommendation comes hot on the heels of the resignation of former National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula a day after she lost her court bid to stop her arrest in connection with allegations of corruption.

Nkosi and Moshodi said the lifestyle audits will focus on presiding officers of both Houses, chairpersons of all committees, chief whips of all political parties, any MP that has been red-flagged by the e-disclosure system and any MP the joint committee may identify from time to time.

They said if there was an allegation of fraud, bribery, corruption or unethical conduct against an MP, the affected member shall form part of the risk profile for a lifestyle audit.

“The registrar must conduct a verification process and inform the member that she or he will be subjected to a verification process as the first step in a lifestyle audit.

“A member must comply with the request to subject herself or himself to a lifestyle audit.”

According to Nkosi and Moshodi, the verification process will consider paper-based documentation, and if necessary, an in-person interview with the affected MP to resolve any factual or capturing errors.

“Where the verification process resolves discrepancies, the registrar must table the outcome of the verification process before the committee for ratification by the committee.

“Where the verification process does not resolve discrepancies, the registrar will table the matter before the committee for a decision on whether the matter must be referred to Special Investigating Unit, another law enforcement agency, or other entity, for a full lifestyle audit to be conducted.”

The report said the registrar must publish the outcome of a verification process or lifestyle audit on the parliamentary communiqué Announcement, Tablings and Committee Reports.

The report stated that the code of ethics applied to MPs serving in the National Assembly and the permanent delegates to the NCOP.

This does not extend to ministers or deputies appointed to the executive who are not elected MPs, nor does it include MPs who have resigned, passed away, or ceased to be elected public representatives.

“The committee does not have jurisdiction to consider or continue with a complaint if a member ceases to be a member for any reason as set out in subsection (3)(c), (d) or (e).

“In the event that the committee is considering a complaint against a member at the time when the member ceases to be a member, the committee may not proceed with the complaint and must close the complaint file.”

In their report, Nkosi and Moshodi make a recommendation on how MPs should conduct themselves on social media platforms.

It said MPs must not bring Parliament into disrepute when using, engaging in or communicating content on social media platforms.

“A member who is addressing another member or a member of the public on social media platforms must not use derogatory, racist or sexist language or content that is derogatory, racist (and) sexist.

Cape Times

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