Today, 10 days after I requested access to the President’s declaration of interests for the years 2009-2017, I finally viewed these documents here at Union Buildings.
The President is required by the Executive Ethics Code to disclose the particulars of all his financial interests to the Secretary of Cabinet, Dr Cassius Lubisi, once a year. This includes all shares and interests in corporate companies, sponsorships, gifts and donations, hospitality, pension, and foreign travel.
From the outset, the reason for my request was simple: to establish whether President Zuma had, as required by law, declared his R1 million per month income received for Royal Security – a company owned by his close friend and tenderpreneur, Roy Moodley during the first months of his Presidency in 2009.
This follows recent revelations contained in investigate journalist Jacques Pauw's book, The President's Keepers, which claims that according to a South African Revenue Service (SARS) official, Jacob Zuma was on the payroll of Royal Security for at least four months after he assumed the role of President.
I can today confirm that President Jacob Zuma did not declare any salary earned in the 2009-10 financial year in the register of his financial interests. The only mention in the register of Mr Roy Moodley was the President’s use of Mr Moodley’s Durban beachfront property in 2016.
This, in our view, constitutes a breach of the Executive Ethics Code - specifically the following sections:
- Section 2.3(d) – Use of position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other persons;
- Section 2.3(f) - Expose themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and their private interests;
- Section 2.3(g) - Receive remuneration for any work or service other than for the performance of their functions as members of the Executive; and
- Section 5.3 – Failure to actually disclose the financial interest timeously.
Moreover, section 5.6 of the Executive Ethics Code states that when a member makes a disclosure, the member must confirm in writing to the Secretary that the member receives no remuneration other than as a member of the Executive. (emphasis added)
This written confirmation for the 2009-10 financial was not presented to me, and as such I cannot confirm whether the President did in fact submit this written confirmation. As such, I will be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (2 of 2000) to gain access to Royal Security's employment records for the 2009 year. While Royal Security is a private entity, Section 70 of the PAIA Act allows such access to information if in the public interest. The section states:
The head of a private body must grant a request for access to a record of the body if-
(a) the disclosure of the record would reveal evidence of-
(i) a substantial contravention of, or failure to comply with, the law; or
(ii) imminent and serious public safety or environmental risk; and
(b) the public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the harm contemplated in the provision in question.
The failure to comply with the law refers to sections of the Executive Ethics Act and Code, and the public interest in knowing whether the President was in violation of the law certainly outweighs any possible harm. We will argue that our application satisfies both subsections above, and the information ought to be made public so that we can corroborative the allegations already put.
Such disregard for the law is not surprising coming from an individual who has captured his own political party, the government, and our country – and sold it off for profit to the highest bidder. These are the sordid deeds of an unethical and self-indulged man who will stop at nothing to make himself and his friends rich.
In light of the President’s prima facie breach of the Executive Ethics Code, I will be laying a complaint with the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting her office to investigate the matter and come to a timeous finding with suitable recommendations.
The Executive Members Ethics Act (82 of 1998) requires the Public Protector to investigate any alleged breach of the code of ethics on receipt of a complaint, and to submit a report on the alleged breach of the code of ethics within 30 days after receipt of a complaint. We will keenly await such a report.
Moreover, the register of the President's interests did not contain any disclosures of the following matters, which I will request the Public Protector to include in the investigation:
- The alleged funding of the President’s birthday bashes in 2015 and 2016, by Bosasa, to the estimated value of R3.5 million; and
- Any income or benefits received in relation to the non-security upgrade at Nkandla, including the loan extended by VBS Mutual Bank. This despite the President telling Parliament that he does in fact have a loan in respect of Nkandla.
In addition to the President breaching the Executive Ethics Code by not disclosing his illicit on-the-side salary, the register contained the following notable disclosures:
- A hibiscus tea set from Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir in 2014, a year before the South African government allowed the man wanted for crimes against humanity to flee our country in violation of a High Court order.
- Four bottles of Merlot wine from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2016, the first and only mention of Putin in the register;
- A gold watch from the UAE government in 2011, the value of which was not disclosed; and
- Two Parker pens from suspended Crime Intelligence Head, Richard Mdluli.
What I have seen today cements what I, like most South Africans already know: President Jacob Zuma shows utter disregard for the law, and has at every turn sought to undermine the people of South Africa for his own personal gain.
The DA will continue to ensure that the Constitution and the rule of law are respected and upheld by all who hold elected office, none more so than the President. Those who fail to do so will be brought to book.
The ANC has long lost touch with the people of South Africa and cannot self-correct, no matter who is elected as its President. The once respected liberation organisation of Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu is dead, and is now nothing more than an organised criminal syndicate, with Jacob Zuma leading the way.
Our nation and its people need a new beginning, and that new beginning lies in a post-ANC South Africa.