12 Aug 1996


12 August 1996



Parliament resumes this week with a debate on a new Code of Conduct
for Parliamentarians, which will require all Members of the National Assembly
and Senate to declare publicly all their financial interests. The new Code
of Conduct, drafted largely by the ANC, will ensure that elected representatives
maintain the highest standards of propriety and integrity. Its main features

  • no Parliamentarian should put himself or herself in a position which
    conflicts with his or her responsibilities as a public representative
  • no Parliamentarian can take any improper benefit, profit or advantage
    from being an elected Member
  • there can be no lobbying by any Member for which he or she is remunerated
  • a Register of Members` Interests will be drawn up disclosing all financial
    interests relevant to a Member`s position as an elected representative
  • a Committee on Members` Interests will be established to supervise
    the Register of Members` Interests, give advice on the Code of Conduct,
    report to Parliament on the Code`s operation, and recommend sanctions for
    breaches of the Code.

Register of Members` Interests

The Register of Members` Interests will be drawn up within 30 days of
the adoption of the Code of Conduct, and all members must register their
financial interests (and those of their spouse, companion and dependant
children) within 30 days of the opening of the register or of their election
to Parliament. Gifts and hospitality must be updated every two months,
and other interests annually.

The Register is in two parts: a Confidential Part, open only to the
Committee of Members` Interests; and a Public Part, open to the public.
The Code requires that the following `registerable interests` must be entered
into the Register:

  • shares and other financial interests
  • remunerated employment outside Parliament
  • directorships and partnerships, where remuneration is associated with
    being a Member
  • consultancies
  • sponsorships
  • gifts and hospitality worth more than R350
  • benefits
  • foreign travel
  • land and property
  • pensions.

Enforcement of the Code

The new Code of Conduct will be enforced by the Committee of Members`
Interests and by Parliament. Any Member found in breach of the Code could
be penalised by: a public reprimand; a fine or a reduction of salary or
allowances up to 30 days` salary; or the suspension of privileges or the
suspension of the right to sit in Parliamentary debates or committees for
up to 15 days.

The ANC`s Position

The ANC took the lead in drawing up the new Code of Conduct, in order
to promote more openness and greater public accountability among Parliamentarians.
Other parties resisted some of the features of the new Code as it was being
drawn up.

The ANC`s Code of Conduct

The ANC`s own Code of Conduct, which was adopted in November 1994, goes
further than the new Parliamentary Code of Conduct. Its provisions will
continue to be rigorously enforced among all Members elected to the National
Assembly on the ANC list or who were elected to Senate by provincial legislatures.
The key differences are:

  • the ANC requires the disclosure of all gifts worth more than R200 (compared
    to R350 for the new Code)
  • the ANC`s Register of Interests is updated every six months (compared
    to every year for the new Code)
  • elected Members are banned from having any other type of full-time
    employment (compared to just having to register such employment under the
    new Code)
  • the failure to sign the Code of Conduct or to disclose financial interests
    will result in the removal from the ANC list or the Senate (compared to
    reprimands, fines or temporary suspensions for breaches under the new Code).

Key Lines

The ANC is clearly demonstrating its commitment to clean, open and
accountable government, while the National Party practised nepotism, secrecy
and corruption for 48 years.

The ANC has already been enforcing its own Code of Conduct for almost
two years.

The ANC`s Code of Conduct is stricter than that proposed for Parliament,
because ANC Parliamentarians put public probity before personal profit.

It was the ANC which pushed for a Parliamentary Code of Conduct and
a Register of Members` Interests, when the National Party tried to resist

The new Code of Conduct is just one of the many measures that the
ANC is promoting to restore honesty and integrity to public life.