Ramaphosa confirms lifestyle audits are still in the pipeline

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that lifestyle audits of MPs are under way, marking a significant step in efforts to combat corruption.

Ramaphosa made the announcement during his oral questions session at the National Assembly on Tuesday, where topics ranged from land reform to the presidential employment stimulus.

The president disclosed that Phindile Baleni, the director-general of the Presidency, is leading the lifestyle audit process.

“The audits aim to collect comprehensive information on individuals’ lifestyles to identify any instances where expenditures exceed their reported income.

Lifestyle audits to help in investigations

While lifestyle audits alone may not prove wrongdoing, they can serve as indicators for further investigation,” he said.

In November 2020, Ramaphosa told parliament that consultations on a framework for lifestyle audits were in the process of being finalised.

On Tuesday, he emphasised that, due to government cost-containment measures, the capacity for conducting these audits had to be built within the office of the director-general.

However, the process took longer than anticipated, affecting the audit timelines.

“This is the first time that the national government is conducting lifestyle audits of members of the executive, requiring new systems, processes, and methodologies to be developed.

“The director-general will decide on the most appropriate way to communicate the outcomes of the audits once they are completed,” Ramaphosa said.

The necessity for lifestyle audits comes amid corruption allegations against high-ranking officials.

DA leader John Steenhuisen pointed out during the session that if such audits were already in place, they might have detected corruption allegations against Deputy President Paul Mashatile and the alleged solicitation of a R2.3-million payment by National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula from a contractor.

NPA raids Mapisa-Nqakula’s home

“Mr President, you are the reason we are sitting with a corrupt deputy president and the speaker’s house being raided,” Steenhuisen said.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s absence during Tuesday’s plenary session was notable, as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) conducted a seizure operation at her home.

The NPA confirmed the operation, stating that it was part of an investigation into corruption allegations during Mapisa-Nqakula’s tenure as minister of defence and military veterans.

The speaker, however, maintains her innocence and has cooperated fully with investigators during the search.

Parliament spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, reiterated Mapisa-Nqakula’s commitment to serving with honour and integrity and her strong denial of the corruption allegations.

Corruption, Mothapo emphasised, undermines democracy and good governance, posing a significant threat to the principles that the speaker stands for.

Speaker is committed to serving with honour

“The speaker steadfastly upholds her strong conviction of innocence and reaffirms that she has nothing to hide,” Mathapo said.

“In line with this, she welcomed investigators into her home, cooperating fully during the extensive search that lasted over five hours.

“The speaker’s commitment to serving the public with honour and integrity remains unwavering.

“Corruption poses a significant threat to the principles of democracy and good governance and fundamentally contradicts everything the speaker represents.

“Therefore, she is profoundly disturbed by such allegations.”

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