South African President Jacob Zuma continues to appear entirely unconcerned with the potential for conflicts of interest among senior members of his government.
Last week, the Commons featured a story on the Mail and Guardian’s probe into the financial holdings and business investments of the new South African executive cabinet. The M & G is now reporting that South African Transportation Minister, S’bu Ndebele, recently received herds of cattle and a Mercedes Benz as gifts from contractors who benefited from a government initiative to stimulate local business development in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Zuma and other top ANC leaders had no qualms with the gifts, and they advised Ndebele to keep the presents and simply declare them in an annual asset disclosure. Despite initial resistance, Ndebele decided to go against the advice of his party leaders and give back his new ride. Don’t expect Ndebele to be trading this luxury vehicle in for anything less extravagant. He claims he can buy a car of equal value with the car expense allowance he receives from the government: close to R1-million!
Yet again, public pressure, not internal party or government ethics standards, have forced South African policymakers to reevaluate whether their personal connections pose a conflict with their official duties.
— Norah Mallaney