...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
#UniteBehind, a commuter activist group, has taken legal action against Parliament’s Ethics Committee for its failure to act on complaints submitted six months ago against six ANC MPs.
The complaints were made against the MPs for their involvement in state capture and maladministration at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA).
The group is seeking the court’s intervention to compel the Ethics Committee and its Registrar to act on their complaints and to declare provisions of Parliament’s Code of Conduct unconstitutional.
Complaints against the six ANC MPs:
#UniteBehind lodged formal complaints against six ANC MPs, including Sfiso Buthelezi, Dipuo Peters, Joe Maswanganyi, Dikeledi Magadzi, Fikile Mbalula, and Mosebenzi Zwane.
The group accused each of these MPs of enabling state capture and corruption by failing to fulfill their ethical and legal duties of care.
Buthelezi, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, was accused of directly benefiting from corruption at PRASA.
Unlawful and unconstitutional inaction:
#UniteBehind claims that the Ethics Committee and its acting Registrar of Members’ Interests, Anthea Gordon, have failed to investigate its complaints within a reasonable timeframe and in accordance with Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interest for Assembly and Permanent Council Members.
The group argues that this is unlawful and unconstitutional.
The Ethics Committee and the Registrar have not provided any effective updates regarding their investigations despite repeated requests from #UniteBehind.
The group claims that the Registrar and the Committee have ignored their requests and failed to provide even basic information pertaining to their work and workload.
Legal action and demands:
#UniteBehind has filed an application in the Western Cape High Court seeking to declare the seeming inaction of the Ethics Committee unlawful and unconstitutional.
The group also wants the Registrar to process, investigate, and decide on the complaints according to a schedule determined by the court.
If the Ethics Committee and Registrar fail to comply with the court’s timetable, #UniteBehind wants to be able to return to court.
Additionally, the group seeks to declare confidentiality provisions in Parliament’s code of conduct unconstitutional.
These provisions allow the Registrar to keep complaints against MPs confidential until a recommendation is made to the Committee whether to proceed and the proceedings of the Ethics Committee to be kept confidential until after a decision is made about the recommended complaints.
GroundUp sought comment from the Ethics Committee’s Co-Chairpersons, the Registrar, and the six MPs named in the complaints, but no reply was received at the time of publication.
This article highlights the ongoing battle against corruption in South Africa, with #UniteBehind seeking to hold the country’s leaders accountable for their actions.
The group’s legal action against Parliament’s Ethics Committee shows that it is not enough to simply submit complaints and hope for the best.
Rather, active steps must be taken to ensure that those in power are held accountable for their actions.
The fact that #UniteBehind has had to resort to legal action to compel the Ethics Committee to act on its complaints is concerning, as it suggests that those in power may not be willing to take action against their own colleagues.
It remains to be seen what the outcome of the legal action will be, but it is clear that #UniteBehind is not willing to back down in its fight against corruption.