John Cupido and Mcebisi Jopas

: DA MPL John Cupido with Finance and Economic Development MEC Mcebisi Jonas

The insistence of answers from government has lead to an official forensic investigation being launched against a government top dog.

MPL John Cupido exposed the dodgy appointment of the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board’s chief executive Mabutho Zwane by submitting questions for written reply to Finance and Economic Development MEC Mcibisi Jonas recently.  In turn the facts were relayed to the public through an exclusive exposé in the Daily Dispatch.

Allegations highlight the relationship between Zwane and a top executive of Vukani, the biggest distributor of limited payout gaming machines and the appointment of Zwane, whose wife worked in the public sector, as well as for Vukani.

In terms of gambling legislation, a board member, which includes the CEO, is prohibited from having a personal relationship with a gambling supplier.

Cupido said the recent report overwhelmingly proved that Zwane should have been disqualified as former Economic Development MEC Mbulelo Sogoni recommended in a letter to the gambling board in 2008. “MEC Jonas had the facts too,” said Cupido.

He said the whole saga pointed to a “jobs for pals” scenario.

This latest scenario again proves that Legislature questions are one of the most powerful tool opposition parties have to call government to account.

Official questions, which are formally tabled in the house, must be replied to within time frames in terms of the Standing Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Legislature.  If this is not done, the particular MEC has to stand up in the House at the next meeting of the Legislature and explain to his MPLs why a question was not answered.  This rule is rigidly enforced by the Speaker.

As a result, numerous problems get resolved by departments who go out and fix a hotspot before the MEC answers, to spare him any embarrassment because of a negative reply.

The public will be interested to know that because MPLs have privilege, they can submit any questions relating to corruption and maladministration without legal consequences.

Commenting on the validity of questions by a member of the public recently, of questions Legislature Leader Bobby Stevenson said:  “There have been numerous successes over the years in resolving issues ranging from corruption, the firing of officials, exposing maladministration, ensuring payment of pensions, salaries and suppliers, as well as halting of the wastage of public funds: thanks to the many questions asked by the DA.

“Without the questioning procedure, which is available to public representatives, our democracy would be worse off”.

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