Diamonds and large cash gifts for MPs in this year’s register for Member’s Interests

While some MPs have registered receiving gifts of diamonds‚ large sums of cash and expensive whiskeys as gifts over the past year‚ 14 members of Parliament may face sanctions for failing to disclose their financial interests‚ gifts and travel in accordance with Parliamentary rules.

The committee on ethics and members interests released the register for members interests today.

Committee co-chairs Amos Masondo and Aumsen Singh said that an investigation into the 14 who had not disclosed their interests would be conducted “before any consideration of sanctions can be entertained”.

Among those with the most financial interests are Finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa.

Gordhan holds blue chip shares in Naspers‚ Growthpoint‚ Spar‚ MTN‚ Bidvest‚ Sasol BHP Billiton and all of South Africa’s major banks.

Ramaphosa declared shares in Mondi Paper and packaging valued at over R2 million‚ and his directorships in Micawber 799 and 800‚ which is the holding company for the McDonald’s fast food chain in South Africa. He also lists 31 properties‚ in Johannesburg and South Africa.

Minister of State Security David Mahlobo declared “a diamond ring‚ a diamond watch‚ diamond cufflinks‚ diamond pen and diamond neck chain” valued at an approximate R28‚000 from Saudi Arabia.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba was gifted petroleum jelly and lip balm from his Lesotho counterpart and a pack of blue towels from budget home decor store Sheet Street from the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He also received two food baskets from his physiotherapist.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema meanwhile lists four trusts – the Kopano‚ Munzhedzi‚ Mazimbu and Ratanang trusts – but no gifts‚ travel or property.

Democratic Alliance MP Darren Bergman‚ who sits on the sports committee‚ received the usual assortment of Springbok jerseys and World Cup ties‚ but is also sporting a R650 haircut courtesy of Palladium hair salon.

Sports minister Fikile Mbalula‚ who declared over 30 gifts in 2015 including shirts and confectionery‚ did not even receive so much as a biscuit in 2016.

ANC MP Rosina Semenya‚ however‚ received a R10‚000 watch from a “friend” and a meat pack valued at precisely R201.95 from County Fair.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu‚ known for snacking on and sharing chocolate in the house‚ would no doubt have been delighted at her gifts of chocolates and wine from the Turkish Embassy‚ a cake plate from Malaysia and a cookie basket from Standard Bank.

Among the more popular gifts for MPs were tickets to sporting and social events such as the Durban July‚ the J&B Met‚ the Cape Town Jazz festival and some Kaizer Chiefs football matches.

Also popular were bottles of wine and whiskey‚ gifts of tea‚ biscuits‚ fruit platters and ties and socks.

Referring to MPs who had not disclosed their interests‚ Masondo said that at a meeting last week‚ it had been decided that the 14 be given seven days in which to “explain their non-compliance”.

Acting registrar Nthuthuzelo Vanara said that the seven days would only be counted from when the MPs received letters asking them for an explanation‚ which would be sent out “in due course”.

Another three MPs did not disclose their interests but the committee decided to condone these as two had been MPs sworn in after the August elections and another had been seriously ill.

Last year‚ Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane landed in hot water after failing to disclose any funds he had received towards his campaign to run for leader of the party. Maimane challenged the matter in court and it was ruled that an ad hoc committee be set up to probe the matter.

Singh said the committee had been established and “we should get a response within the next 30 days”.

This year‚ Maimane declared a R25‚000 cash gift from Alpha‚ a Christian mission organisation in London‚ a R10‚000 painting from artist Helene Kapp‚ a painting of himself and Nelson Mandela‚ a revolving pencil holder and three pairs of socks‚ sent on a monthly basis for six months.

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