Politics

Parliament finds ANC MP in breach of code for 'derogatory and discriminatory term'

Parliament finds ANC MP in breach of code for 'derogatory and discriminatory term'

An ANC MP has been hauled over the coals for referring to a councillor as a “house-n****r” in a WhatsApp group.

Faiez Jacobs, an ANC backbencher in parliament and former Western Cape party secretary, has been found guilty of breaching the code of ethics for using a term meant to dehumanise black people during the slavery era.

The joint committee on ethics and members’ interest has found Jacobs guilty of using the term in reference to Western Cape ward councillor Angus McKenzie during a squabble in a WhatsApp group last year.

Jacobs is said to have posted on a community WhatsApp group that “if a house-n****r was a person, it would be him”, referring to McKenzie.

He has been ordered to issue a public apology in parliament for “using the derogatory and discriminatory term ... to refer to Mr McKenzie on a WhatsApp group chat that consisted of members of the community and members of various political parties”.

According to the committee, chaired by Bekiziwe Nkosi and Lydia Moshodi, Jacobs did not deny using the term in reference to McKenzie.

The committee found that as an MP, Jacobs was supposed to set an example.

“As the word ... is derogatory, the committee found that the posting of the term on the group chat constitutes a breach of the member's duty to maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of parliament and thereby engender the respect and confidence that society needs to have in parliament as a representative institution. It further constitutes a breach of the members’ duty to eradicate all forms of discrimination,” the report stated.

The ethics committee has also released a report on the declarations of interests by MPs.

There was a growing trend of MPs who failed to meet the deadline to disclose their interests in 2019 and 2020.

Former finance minister Tito Mboweni was among those who submitted late. He said he had misplaced his declaration form due to his extensive local and international travel.

His explanation was, however, not accepted, with the committee saying he could have easily asked for new forms. It has been recommended that he be reprimanded in the National Assembly.

Deputy minister of human settlements, David Mahlobo should also be reprimanded in the National Assembly for submitting late.

EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu was also a culprit of late submission in 2019. He did not provide any explanation and a reprimand has been recommended.

Minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele also missed the deadline in 2019.

“The member indicated that his late disclosure was due to an administrative error and should not be viewed as disrespect towards the joint committee. The member indicated that due to his heavy workload, he delegated all his correspondence to his secretary, including his confidential matters.

“The member acknowledges that this was erroneous on his part. He implored the joint committee to consider his situation with the most possible leniency. He indicated that he has always tried to uphold ethical imperatives,” the report said.

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