In terms of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Financial Interests (the Code), MPs must disclose their financial interests annually. The following kinds of financial interests are registrable interests and must be disclosed:
Shares and other financial interests in companies and other corporate entities; remunerated employment outside Parliament;
Directorships and partnerships; consultancies; sponsorships;
Gifts and hospitality in excess of R1500, from a source other than a family Member or permanent companion or gifts of a traditional nature provided that this does not create a conflict of interest for the Member;
Any other benefit of a material nature;
Foreign travel (other than personal visits paid by the Member, business visits unrelated to the Member’s role as a public representative, and official and formal visits paid for by an organ of State or the Member’s party);
Ownership in land and property including land and property outside the Republic; pensions; public contracts awarded; trusts and encumbrances.
These interests are compiled into a Register administered by the Office of the Registrar of Member’s Interests in Parliament and overseen by the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members Interest (Joint Committee).
Why must MPs declare?
Parliaments across the world require that MPs declare their interests because the nature of their job requires that they uphold the highest ethical standards.
Declaring such interests enhances transparency and strengthens public trust and confidence in parliamentary processes and decision-making.
The interests register upholds the accountability of members to observe the highest standards of behaviour and conduct. The disclosure of interests also helps to ensure conflicts do not arise between a member’s public duty and private interests.
What happens when an MP fails to declare their interests?
MPs can breach the Code of Ethics in the following ways:
Please check full list of penalties here:
These penalties are applied on a case-by-case, depending on the severity of the breach. The Registrar, through the guidance of the Joint Committee, must investigate the reasons why an MP failed or neglected to disclose their interests and apply penalties in accordance with the Code.
The Committee must report its finding and its recommendations as to penalties, if any, to the appropriate House. If the Committee recommends a penalty, the House must either:
Accept or reject the recommendations; or
Refer the matter back to the Committee for further consideration.
If the House has accepted the Committee’s recommendation, the findings become final and the Speaker or the Chairperson of the Council must act on such a decision promptly.
Why you - as the public - must care about the Register of Interests
It is plain and simple. MPs are your elected representatives and their role is to serve you! Any decision that an MP takes must be in the public’s interest. If an MP deviates from this, and decides to pursue personal or political gains, he or she must be held accountable, and the Register of Interests empowers you to do so.
What is the role of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members Interests:
The Joint Committee deals with matters relating to ethical conduct of MPs and they oversee the disclosure of MP interests. This Joint Committee was established in terms of the Rules of Parliament - Joint Rule 121 and performs the functions mentioned in Joint Rule 124 in accordance with this Code.
According to Joint Rule 124, meetings of this Joint Committee must be held in closed session. This is especially in instances when the Committee considers a confidential matter affecting a National Assembly (NA) or National Council of Provinces (NCOP) member’s conduct or interests.
Read more about the work of the Ethics and Members' Interest and its members here.
We spoke to member of the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interest Mr Ghaleb Cachalia, and he gave us a glimpse on some of the challenges with the interests register and the ability for the Joint Committee to conduct its work on the interest register.
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