Guilty but still protected: Should abusers remain in the political office?

In August 2017 the former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, was captured on camera assaulting three women with the assistance of his friends Thulani Madonka and Cyril Madonsela. This led to his resignation and subsequent conviction of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. In early November Manana was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment or a R100 000 fine, as well as community service – a sentence which enables him to remain in Parliament. The Constitution stipulates that individuals only become ineligible to stand as public representatives if, in the last five years, they have received a sentence in excess of 12 months without the option of a fine.

 

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#NotOurLeaders

16 Days of Activism to end violence against women

For release: Tuesday 5 December 2017

GUILTY BUT STILL PROTECTED: SHOULD ABUSERS REMAIN IN POLITICAL OFFICE?  

CASE 9: Guilty of assault against a woman but still protected Mduduzi Manana, ANC MP, former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training

In August 2017 the former Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana, was captured on camera assaulting three women with the assistance of his friends Thulani Madonka and Cyril Madonsela. This led to his resignation and subsequent conviction of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. In early November Manana was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment or a R100 000 fine, as well as community service – a sentence which enables him to remain in Parliament. The Constitution stipulates that individuals only become ineligible to stand as public representatives if, in the last five years, they have received a sentence in excess of 12 months without the option of a fine.

Initially the ANC firmly and repeatedly stated that they intended to discipline Manana, however in November, just before the start of the 16 Days of Activism, the ANC’s Integrity Commission spokesperson is reported in the media saying the party is unlikely to take further disciplinary action.

Measured against the #NotOurLeaders we have profiled thus far, Manana’s acknowledgement of guilt is unusual. Nonetheless, he clearly has no intention of quitting politics and remains a Member of Parliament (MP). Their lack of action against Manana, shows that the ANC clearly agrees with this – which is in sharp contrast to their approach to the DA’s Archie Figlan (see #NotOurLeaders Case 3 – released on 28 November 2017). The ANC decried Figlan’s ‘slap on the wrist’ by the DA and called for him to be fired for such ‘gross misconduct.’ They added that they would be taking the matter further by writing to Parliament’s Ethics Committee to see if he had transgressed its code. Whether or not they did so, as well as the outcome of their proposed action is unknown.

The ANC’s decisions on Manana thus far, is also in contrast to their response to their former Chief Whip, Mbulelo Goniwe, who was charged in October 2006 with trying to obtain sexual favours from a parliamentary intern.  He was first expelled by the party in late 2006 and then reinstated when his appeal against the disciplinary outcome succeeded. A second disciplinary enquiry in late 2007 again found him guilty but did not expel him. Instead, his membership was suspended for three years, with the suspension itself suspended for three years - effectively allowing him to retain his membership. He was also asked to perform tasks assigned to him by the ANC Women’s League and was barred from holding any public office for the ANC at local, provincial or national level.

In 2011 Goniwe successfully sued the ANC for loss of income and in 2013 received a pay-out of R1.7 million from the party. This was due to his not having been paid by the ANC when he was reinstated. Still proclaiming his innocence, he also sought to re-enter politics. His bid appears to have been unsuccessful and he is currently either the chair or managing director of a number of companies in the Eastern Cape.

“The ANCs inconsistency shows that it is only when a member falls out of political favour that they run the risk of being called to account on gender-based violence. It’s also unacceptable that political parties are so quick to call other parties to hold their people to high standards of accountability, while they protect their own members for the same behaviour.”  Said Sam Waterhouse of the Women and Democracy Initaitive.

“These cases again point to gaps in policy and failure to implement policy.” Argues Sanja Bornman from Lawyers for Human Rights. “Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct for members provides very little guidance around how the institution should respond to gender-based violence and discrimination or how gender-based violence should be sanctioned, which is a clear gap. However the Code does set standards that MPs must uphold, standards that committing acts of gender-based violence, as Manana has done, contravene.” MPs also take an oath to uphold the Constitution and its Bill of Rights - including the right to equality and the right to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources. “Manana’s conduct breaches both rights, The Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) defines gender-based violence as a form of discrimination that violates the right to equality.“ said Bornman.

#NotOurLeaders calls for the following action

  • The ANC must discipline Manana and remove him from his position as an MP. This would demonstrate the ANC’s talk on its alleged zero tolerance to violence against women and children and its #CountMeIn campaign.
  • Parliament’s Committee on Ethics and Members Interests must indicate what action has been taken thus far in regard to the Complaint that was lodged with the Registrar in respect of Manana’s conduct and status as an MP. This Complaint was lodged by the Women’s Legal Centre Trust in late August 2017 and to date there is still no information available on the process is or outcome to the matter. This matter must be dealt with as a priority.
  • Parliament to develop the Code to clearly recognise gender-based violence and all forms of sexual misconduct.

For comment contact:

Sanja Bornman, Lawyers for Human Rights, 083 522 2933

Lisa Vetten, gender violence specialist, 082 822 6725

Vivienne Mentor-Lalu Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute, 082 494 0788

For more cases from #NotOurLeaders click here

Relevant Policy

The Constitution

Section 47(1)(e) of the Constitution states that anyone convicted of an offence and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of a fine cannot hold a position as a member of the National Assembly. This applies for a period of five years after the sentence has been completed.

Section 47(3)(c) states that a person cannot be a member of the National Assembly if they cease to be a member of the political party that nominated them to the National Assembly and if they do not become a member of another political party.

The Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests for Assembly and Permanent Council Members

Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct for Members provides a wide range of standards and possible offences for MPs. It does not specify sexual misconduct in any form however requires the Committee on Ethics and Members Interests to ‘develop a body of interpretation and clarification in respect of individual cases and contemporary values.’.

The Code is meant to ‘create public trust and confidence in public representatives and to protect the integrity of Parliament.’ and to ‘promote and support ethical conduct by leadership and example.’ All members must ‘uphold the law; act in accordance with the public trust placed in them, place the public interest above their own’ and be committed to the eradication of all forms of discrimination.

Any actions of a Member of Parliament that amount to the list above constitutes a breach of the Code of Conduct and must result in disciplinary action. The sanctions against MPs found guilty of gender-based violence are not specified in the code however the Ethics Committee has the power to recommend ‘any greater sanction it deeps appropriate’. The National Assembly then decides on the sanction based on recommendations from the Ethics Committee.

https://www.parliament.gov.za/code-conduct

 

RELATED MEDIA STORIES

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-11-15-manana-faces-sanction-by-parliament-ethics-committee/

http://ewn.co.za/2015/06/11/ANC-outraged-by-lenient-penalty-on-DA-MP-after-sexual-harassment-saga

https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/sunday-times/20070708/281792804618543

https://mg.co.za/article/2013-11-13-anc-pays-sex-pest-goniwe-r17m-say-reports

https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/2013-11-04-goniwe-in-talks-to-return-to-parliament/

About the #NotOurLeaders campaign

During this year’s 16 Days of Activism, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and gender violence specialist, Lisa Vetten, turn the spotlight on political representatives accused of sexual violence and the practices that protect and enable their sexual misconduct and abuse. By contrasting the range of incidents reported with parties’ inconsistent – even non-existent – responses, the campaign aims to demonstrate the chasm between political-speak and political actions on sexual violence.

The campaign emphasises the need for strong political leadership by all political parties and representatives in tackling the pervasive problem of sexual violence in South Africa.

 

 

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