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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

‘Complaint unfounded’ – Ethics committee clears Nxesi and Zwane of state capture allegations

Nxesi's name was dropped by Edwin Sodi at the state capture commission, where he testified he had paid R45,000 to underprivileged schoolchildren at Nxesi's request.

The Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests has cleared MPs Thulas Nxesi, Cedric Frolick, Mosebenzi Zwane and Winnie Ngwenya of any wrongdoing in the complaints arising from the commission of inquiry into state capture reports.

The committee this week finalised some cases that directly flowed from recommendations made by the Zondo commission and cleared the four MPs of any wrongdoing.

Thulas Nxesi

A complaint was laid by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in 2020 following controversial businessman Edwin Sodi’s testimony at the Zondo commission, in which he revealed he had paid R45,000 to underprivileged schoolchildren following Nxesi’s request.

Sodi, who was awarded a R255m asbestos tender in the Free State, was testifying about payments made to “perceived politically connected people”.

According to the committee, Nxesi provided an affidavit to the commission that confirmed the explanation provided by Sodi that the payment was not for his personal use.

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“The member clarified that his name appeared as a reference for the payment but that the payment was not made to him. Rather, the payment was the result of a fundraising initiative he undertook to raise money to assist two families in financial need,” it said.

“The committee considered the proof of the payments and found that it confirms the version of events as explained by the member. The committee found that the member did not breach the code.”

Cedric Frolick

Frolick’s matter was referred to the committee last year following allegations contained in part 3 of the commission’s report dealing with Bosasa.

Frolick was accused of “winning over Vincent Smith, the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services and Justice Chairperson,” for a monthly benefit of R40,000.

He was also accused of receiving accommodation at the City Lodge OR Tambo from 21 to 22 August 2021, costing R2 744.28, paid for by Bosasa.

ALSO READ: ANC MP Cedric Frolick tells Zondo he did not receive money from Bosasa

“In considering the matter, the committee noted that the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests was adopted by the Houses on 29 July 2014 (NA) and 31 July 2014 (NCOP) and came into operation on 1 November 2014. The Code does not have a retrospective effect. As the matters covered in the report predate the Code, the Code cannot be applied to alleged conduct,” said the committee.

Frolick was also found to have disclosed his directorship with the Eastern Province Rugby Union, which paid for the said accommodation.

Mosebenzi Zwane

The complaints against Zwane included his alleged unlawful conduct in the Gupta family-linked company Estina and Vrede dairy farm matter in his capacity as the MEC in the Free State Province and failure in his position as Chairperson of the PCOT to conduct oversight over Prasa and the minister of transport.

In its report, the committee said the Estina and Vrede matter did not fall within its jurisdiction as Zwane was the MEC of the Free State province at the time and not a Member of Parliament.

ALSO READ: Ethics committee recommends Mosebenzi Zwane’s suspension as MP

Zwane also denied that he had failed in his oversight role over Prasa, attributing oversight to a committee function, not an individual one.

The committee accepted Zwane’s explanation.

“The committee found that the complaint is unfounded in respect of the part of the complaint that refers to the Member’s oversight function,” it said.

Winnie Ngwenya

The complaint against Ngwenya was submitted last year following testimonies of Angelo Agrizzi, Dennis Bloem and Vincent Smith at the state capture inquiry.

Ngwenya was at the state capture commission accused of trying to recruit former correctional services portfolio committee chairman Dennis Bloem to do the bidding for Bosasa for money.

This allegedly happened from 2004 to 2009 (Bloem and Agrizzi) and 2010/2011 (Smith).

ALSO READ: How Bosasa’s ‘godfather’ pulled government’s strings

According to the report, Ngwenya appeared before the committee in November last year and 12 June this year and denied all allegations against her.

“She indicated that she does not know why Mr Bloem implicated her in the Bosasa matter. She also indicated that she never met Mr Smith at a hotel in Rivonia Road. She also indicated that she does not reside close to the Bosasa offices,” reads the report.

The committee accepted her explanation and found she did not breach the Code.