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LETTER: New parliament must be cleansed of crooks

SA must not enter its next political phase with corrupt officials

06 May 2019 – 05:05 (BusinessDay)

South African parliament. Picture: GCIS

South African parliament. Picture: GCIS

The voters of SA — those of them who turn up on Wednesday — have the opportunity to assist in the post-Zuma cleansing process that all right-thinking people accept is essential if constitutional democracy under the rule of law is to survive in their beloved country. Some may consider, believe, trust or hope that the alliance that has governed at national level since 1994 has the capacity to self-correct; others won’t. They will all vote accordingly.

The 400 newly elected members of the National Assembly will gather on May 22 to elect, from their number, the president — our head of state and also head of the national executive. It is likely, but not certain, that President Cyril Ramaphosa will muster the necessary 201 votes and put together the long-awaited and trimmed-down new cabinet of his “new dawn”, hopefully free of “ou donders”.

It is fervently to be hoped that the voters and president will insist that parliament and the cabinet be free of crooks, those implicated in state capture and the corrupt. This involves discarding many questionable characters on the ANC party list, a number of current cabinet ministers, convicted Travelgate fraudsters and all those who have been fingered in credible evidence before the Zondo and other commissions and in litigation, both past and ongoing. 

If there is a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing based on prima facie credible evidence, the accused should be purged in the essential cleansing process of which the ANC speaks but on which it has not yet acted. The test should not be a criminal conviction. 

It is the function of parliament to hold the cabinet to account, starting with proper explanations of the pedigree of its members. The loyal opposition must immediately insist on a clean cabinet if the sixth parliament is to start on the right footing. The voters can help by casting their votes judiciously. 

Paul Hoffman, SC
Director, Accountability Now

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