Parliamentary Ethics Committee yesterday released its annual register of financial interests of parliamentarians. The main purpose of the register is to provide information about any financial interest which an MP has, or any benefit which she or he receives, which others might reasonably consider to influence his or her actions in their line of work.
In a shocking list tweeted by an eNCA journalist, Leister Kiewit, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan holds shares in all the four banks and in some entities of white monopoly capitalists. He has shares in – Standard Bank, Nedbank, ABSA, First Rand – to the total sum of R665,000.
He also holds shares in Johann Rupert’s Remgro – R141,000 and Naspers – R237,000. Rupert has been able to secure some in the Treasury it would seem. Barclays Africa CEO, Maria Ramos, the wife of former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who herself worked at treasury, sat on the boards of Remgro and Sanlam.
Gordhan’s shares raise a serious conflict of interest. How can a finance minister who has ultimate sign-off on banking licences and controls policy hold significant shares in banks?
The Public Service Commission (PSC) defines conflict of interest as a “conflict between the public duties and private interests of a public official in which the public official has private-capacity interest which could improperly influence the performance of his/her official duties and responsibilities”.
Traditional sources of influence include nepotism, gifts and hospitality but the notion of conflict of interest has become more complex. The more complicated forms include:
- a public official having private business interests in the form of partnerships, membership, investments and government contracts
- a public official leaving to work in a private company or a Chief Executive Officer taking up a key position in a government department with a commercial relationship with his/her former company;
- and a public official having affiliations with other organisations (e.g. an official sits on the board of a non-profit organisation that receives funding from the official’s department)