The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Member of Parliament, Floyd Shivambu, is set to face consequences for not disclosing three payments he received from the now-defunct VBS Mutual Bank. In contrast, the EFF leader, Julius Malema, has been cleared of any wrongdoing due to a lack of concrete evidence. This essay delves into the recent developments surrounding the ethics committee’s investigation into allegations that Malema and Shivambu breached the code of ethical conduct by failing to disclose their interests.
- Background and Complaints: Four years ago, the Democratic Alliance (DA) lodged complaints with Parliament’s Ethics Committee based on media reports suggesting that Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu did not declare the benefits they allegedly received from companies involved in defrauding VBS Mutual Bank. The committee decided to investigate these allegations further.
- Lack of Evidence against Malema: Despite summoning the liquidator involved in the VBS matter to provide a report on the movement of money, no concrete evidence was produced to show that money was transferred to Julius Malema. Furthermore, the Financial Intelligence Centre stated that it would be unlawful to provide information on whether Malema received money through other accounts. Consequently, the committee was unable to make any findings against Malema, ultimately clearing him of any wrongdoing.
- Shivambu’s Breach of Code of Conduct: In contrast to Malema’s case, the committee found that Floyd Shivambu had indeed breached the code of conduct. He failed to disclose three payments totaling R180,000 that he received in 2017 from a company owned by his brother. This company was identified as one through which VBS funds were funneled. The failure to disclose these payments constituted a violation of parliamentary ethics.
- Incomplete Tracing of Funds: The committee’s investigation into Shivambu was limited in scope as they were unable to trace whether he received more money through other bank accounts. Consequently, the committee decided to finalize the complaint based on the evidence it had managed to obtain.
The recent developments surrounding the ethics committee’s investigation into Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu highlight the importance of transparency and accountability in parliamentary proceedings. While Malema was cleared of any wrongdoing due to a lack of concrete evidence, Shivambu faced consequences for not disclosing payments he received from a company connected to the VBS Mutual Bank scandal. This case serves as a reminder that public figures, especially those holding parliamentary positions, must adhere to ethical standards and disclose their interests to maintain public trust and confidence in the political system.
The outcome of this investigation has broader implications for political accountability in South Africa. It underscores the need for a robust and transparent system for monitoring and addressing potential ethical violations among public officials. The fact that Floyd Shivambu was found to have breached the code of conduct demonstrates that parliamentary oversight mechanisms are functioning, albeit imperfectly.
The Role of the Ethics Committee:
Parliament’s Ethics Committee plays a crucial role in upholding the integrity of the legislative body. By investigating allegations of unethical behavior and breaches of the code of conduct, the committee helps ensure that members of Parliament are held accountable for their actions. However, it is important for the committee to have the necessary tools and authority to conduct thorough and impartial investigations.
The Challenge of Tracing Illicit Funds:
One of the challenges highlighted in this case is the difficulty of tracing illicit funds and holding individuals accountable for financial misconduct. The VBS Mutual Bank scandal exposed a web of financial transactions that were used to divert funds for personal gain. Such cases underscore the need for better financial oversight and regulation to prevent corruption and financial misconduct in the future.
The Public’s Expectations:
The public expects high ethical standards from their elected representatives. Transparency and accountability are fundamental principles of a functioning democracy. When public officials fail to disclose financial interests or are suspected of being involved in corrupt activities, it erodes public trust and confidence in the political system. The findings in this case should serve as a reminder to all politicians that they are accountable to the people they represent.
Lessons for the Future:
This case provides an opportunity for reflection and improvement in the South African political landscape. It highlights the importance of strengthening parliamentary ethics rules and enhancing the capacity of oversight bodies to investigate allegations of misconduct thoroughly. Additionally, it underscores the need for politicians to be diligent in their financial disclosures to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
In conclusion, the investigation into Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu’s alleged failure to disclose payments from VBS Mutual Bank-connected entities serves as a case study in political accountability. While Malema was cleared of any wrongdoing due to insufficient evidence, Shivambu was found to have breached the code of conduct. The case underscores the importance of transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct in the political arena, and it calls for ongoing efforts to strengthen oversight mechanisms and uphold the public’s trust in their elected representatives.