Wednesday, 2 February 2011


By Globe reporter
Institute for Democracy in Africa  (Idasa) has noted with grave concern the statement issued by South Africa’s Hessequa Mayor Christopher Taute, in which he admits using his official title as Mayor and the Council’s letterhead to raise funds for the ANC.
Commenting on Mayor Taute’s admission that he signed a letter written on the Hessequa Council letterhead and sent to contractors awarded tenders by the local authority that he leads asking for donations to the ANC, Idasa welcomed the subsequent statement by the party’s Secretary-General, Mr Gwede Mantashe, in which he indicated his view that using municipal resources such as its letterhead to raise funds for the party is wrong, and that a clear distinction must be drawn between party and state.
“Nevertheless, the confusion among senior ruling party representatives on these
important issues is unsettling. The Mayor’s response in defence of his actions reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the responsibilities of public office, and of the consequences that should follow the breach of these responsibilities,” read Idasa statement in part. “It is disturbing that he doesn’t seem to find this conduct unacceptable. Nor does his statement recognise that his actions appear to constitute a clear breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors and an offence in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, 2004.”
Idasa stated that Mayor Taute’s conduct clearly crosses the Constitutional boundary that should separate party and ‘state’ (represented, in this instance, by the Hessequa local authority).
Idasa stated that it was not a leap of logic to recognise that it may also be a breach of the Code of Conduct for Councillors as the Code forbids the use of the ‘position or privileges’ of public office for ‘private gain or to improperly benefit another person’ (in this instance, the ANC).
Idasa further stated that the letter’s request for a donation was explicitly linked to the fact that the contractor was awarded a tender contract by the ‘ANC-run’ municipality, and clearly implies the existence of a reciprocal obligation beyond the terms of the tender contract.
Mayor Taute’s letter states that a donation to the ANC will continue to build on the contractor’s good relations with the ‘ANC-run council’.
“It is indeed difficult to see how any subsequent donation won’t amount to a
‘gratification’ in exchange for a ‘benefit’, amounting to corruption in terms of the Act. It is precisely this type of situation that has contributed to Idasa’s long running campaign to ensure effective regulation of private funding of political parties. The
opportunities for such abuses are so many, and the widespread failure to appreciate the gravity of such actions so disturbing, that effective and comprehensive  regulation
is an urgent imperative,” read the Idasa statement.

1 comment:

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