Tina's tantrum a violation of Executive Ethics Code
The ANC's statement today calling on the Press Club to revisit its membership rules following Minister Joemat-Pettersson's refusal to speak there in my presence reveals its authoritarian tendencies.
Whenever the ANC is held to account, its first instinct is to try and close down the democratic space so that it can escape further scrutiny. This runs counter to the laws and principles of the constitutional democracy we live in.
In behaving the way she did at the Press Club on Friday, Minister Joemat-Pettersson violated the Executive Ethics Code that governs the behaviour of Ministers. I have today written to the Leader of Government Business, Kgalema Motlanthe, requesting him to investigate and recommend further action.
Section 2.1 of the Executive Ethics Code holds that members of the Executive must "perform their duties and exercise their powers diligently and honestly", must "act in good faith and in the best interest of good governance, and "act in all respects in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of their office or the government".
It further determines that, in deciding whether members of the Executive complied with the provisions of this clause, the President must "take into account the promotion of an open, democratic and accountable government".
I believe that the Minister has violated this Code in the following ways:
- Her refusal to address the Cape Town Press Club unless I left the meeting undermines the principles of openness and accountability. The Minister agreed to address the club. Members of the Press Club include business people, diplomats, members of the media and other professionals. That this Minister did not appear to know this when she accepted the invitation to speak at the club cannot be construed as an attempt by the club to "misguide" her.
- Her argument that she would have prepared a "political speech" and not an "information brief for the media" if she had known that members of political parties would be present raises serious questions around whether she approaches political and other engagements "in good faith". The Minister was clearly preparing to package her message for a very particular audience. Is this not an example of the double-speak for which members of our Cabinet are becoming infamous?
The Press Club is not a statutory body and no party has the right to dictate who its members should be. The "promotion of an open, democratic and accountable government" can only be undermined by protecting ministers from open forums of interaction.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson should be reprimanded for her unwillingness to engage with interested parties around the issues in her department, not shielded from scrutiny.
Our Constitution envisages a non-racial, open society in which political leaders can be held accountable. The Democratic Alliance will continue to fight for these values and against the ANC's attempts to destroy them.
Statement issued by Pieter van Dalen MP, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, May 6 2012
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