Public Protector confirms receipt of complaint against the President, clarifies powers under Executive Members’ Ethics Act
Public Protector Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane wishes to confirm receipt of a complaint lodged in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act No. 82 of 1998 (EMEA) against President Cyril Ramaphosa for allegedly breaching the Executive Code of Ethics.
The complaint, which relates to President Ramaphosa’s alleged conduct in respect of allegations of criminal activities at one of his properties, was received last Friday from Mr Vuyo Zungula, MP, President of the African Transformation Movement (ATM). The ATM is a political party represented in Parliament. The Public Protector gets a lot of unfair criticism when it comes to investigations conducted in terms of the EMEA, with some media organisations and politicians often accusing the office of “targeting” certain Members of the Executive and getting involved in party politics.
Accordingly, the office wishes to draw the attention of the public to the following realities:
a) The Public Protector is the only institution in the country empowered to enforce the Executive Code of Ethics;
b) Under the EMEA, only Members of the Executive and Members of Parliament or Provincial Legislatures can lodge complaints of alleged breaches of the Executive Code of Ethics;
c) On receipt of such a complaint, the Public Protector must investigate and must submit a report on the alleged breach of the Executive Code of Ethics within 30 days of the complaint to the President if the complaint was against a member of Cabinet, a Premier or Deputy Minister;
d) If the complaint was against a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) at the provincial sphere of government, the Public Protector must submit the report to the Premier of the province concerned; and
e) On receipt of the report, the President or Premier must within a reasonable time but no later than 14 days submit a copy, any comments on the content and any action taken or to be taken to the National Assembly/ National Council of Provinces, or the Provincial Legislature.
Due to the silence of the EMEA when it comes to the appropriate recipient of the report in case the complaint is against the President, the Public Protector has previously had to improvise and send it to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The investigation concerning Mr Zungula, MP’s complaint has commenced, with allegations letters already written to sources of information, including President Ramaphosa.