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Opposition calls out double standards by the DA against Mnqasela, Schäfer

DA Speaker Masizole Mnqasela and deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer, at the official opening of the legislature earlier this year. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

DA Speaker Masizole Mnqasela and deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer, at the official opening of the legislature earlier this year. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 3, 2022

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Cape Town - The opposition in the province has questioned the double standards in the investigations into the misuse of official perks by the speaker and deputy speaker of the legislature.

ANC deputy chief whip Khalid Sayed questioned the fact that while allegations of misdeeds by speaker Masizole Mnqasela had been referred to the Hawks, questions a bout whether deputy speaker Beverley Schäfer had incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure had been referred to the legislature’s conduct committee.

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Sayed said: “Like the matter of the deputy speaker, the speaker’s matter should have gone to the conduct committee first and exhausted there. If that committee referred the matter to the Hawks then so be it.”

He said that the ANC suspected that the deputy speaker’s matter would not be referred to the Hawks and this would confirm the view that the DA had one set of rules and approaches for whites, and another set of rules and approaches to Africans, Coloureds and Indians.

Freedom Front Plus MPL Peter Marais said members of the legislature suspected a cover-up and urged Premier Alan Winde as the leader of the DA caucus in the legislature to give an explanation.

“The speaker and his deputy did not stand accused of spending DA money but that of this legislature. Why then run to the DA Federal Council and cry on its shoulders? Why not convene the conduct committee of this house and trust us by sharing the evidence against the speaker?”

The opposition comments came as it emerged that the findings and recommendations in an independent investigation into whether fruitless and wasteful expenditure was incurred by deputy speaker Schäfer had questioned the veracity of evidence she gave to the investigator.

Schäfer’s spokesperson Natalie Jardine said that although queries from the Cape Argus were sent yesterday morning to her, she only saw them late in the day and would comment today.

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The investigation report into whether the use of a BMW X5 by Schäfer resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R158 297.86 was conducted by the office of the State Attorney in Cape Town.

The investigation looked into exchanges between secretary to the legislature Romeo Adams and Schäfer and questioned both of them on the issue of the controversial vehicle.

Evaluating the versions of the story by the deputy speaker and the secretary, the investigator wrote: “The version by the deputy speaker, that she was not requested to return the BMW X5 prior to November 27, 2019, is not credible, reliable or probable.

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“Quite to the contrary, what becomes evident is that the secretary had requested the return of the vehicle on several occasions.”

With the secretary, the investigator said: “Unlike the case with the deputy speaker, my questions to the secretary did not reveal any internal contradictions. What is more, his version was consistent with the external facts established in the investigation.”

DA chairperson Jaco Londt said: “We are aware that there are currently internal processes ongoing against other members which the party will act upon as soon as the formal report is tabled.”

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At the same time the conduct committee yesterday released its report regarding a breach of the Code of Conduct by the speaker for failing to disclose a family trust formed by him in 2018 in his disclosure forms submitted for 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The report recommended that Mnqasela be penalised with a reprimand; a fine not exceeding the value of 30 days’ salary, and the suspension of privileges for a period of a week.

Responding to the report the Office of the speaker said that the committee’s recommendations had been noted and that any action taken would be in terms of the provisions of the Code.

Immediately following the release of the conduct committee’s report, Mnqasela took his seat as Speaker to preside over Thursday’s sitting of the legislature.

When asked by Sayed whether he would recuse himself following the conduct committee’s recommendations, Mnqasela said he had not been found guilty on any platform. .

The conduct committee also reported on Good Party MPL’s Shaun August’s late filing of his members’ disclosure and recommended a reprimand as a penalty.

August said he would honour the findings and accept whatever sanction was imposed.

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Cape Argus

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