Tenders, tinned fish, shares and whisky - MPs declare their gifts

Political office-bearers, such as MPs, keep scoring lucrative contracts from the state entities running into millions, according to parliament's annual register of members' interests.

01 September 2021 - 19:24
By Kgothatso Madisa
Gifts received by MPs are listed in an 800-page document of members' interests. Expensive wine and whisky featured on the list as did lucrative government tenders and quirky gifts such as tinned fish, blankets and monthly visits to a hair salon.
Image: 123RF/stockfotocz Gifts received by MPs are listed in an 800-page document of members' interests. Expensive wine and whisky featured on the list as did lucrative government tenders and quirky gifts such as tinned fish, blankets and monthly visits to a hair salon.

While professional public servants have been legally barred from getting government tenders, political office-bearers such as MPs keep scoring lucrative contracts, sometimes running into millions, from state entities.

This is according to parliament's annual register of members' interests, which was released by the legislature's joint committee on ethics and members' interests on Wednesday.

The 866-page document has revealed that, while MPs constantly slam government officials for trading with the state whenever such comes to light, at least of three of them have been awarded government tenders.

The register of members' interest for 2020 shows that ANC MP Seeiso Mohai, who is the chief whip of the NCOP and also the chairperson of the party's parliamentary caucus, scored a R3.2m tender from an unspecified provincial department of sports, arts and culture in 2019 to do “renovations, repairs, and maintenance” at the Willem Prinsloo Museum.

In the same declarations period, another ANC MP, Ntaoleng Peacock, declared to the legislature that she was awarded a R160,000 subcontract for a paving project by the Tsatsabane municipality, which covers the town of Postmasburg in the Northern Cape. She said the contract was for nine months.

Mohai and Peacock could not be reached at the time of publication and their comments will added to this as soon as obtained.

The DA's Jan de Villiers has emerged as a landlord to the Stellenbosch municipality, which is controlled by his party. De Villiers is a director in a company that co-owns an Eikestad mall in the CBD of the wine-producing town, where the Stellenbosch municipality is renting office space.

The register shows that De Villiers' company first scored the R7.1m lease deal between 2016 and 2019, before it was extended to 2024.

“I'm a director of Key Capital (Pty) Ltd, a 20% co-owner of Eikestad Mall, Stellenbosch. The mall is managed by the 80% owner, Attacq listed fund. The municipality leases 484m2 of office space, total mall area is 48,025m2, so 1% of the total lettable area,” said De Villiers in his declaration form.

De Villiers said on Wednesday night that he had always declared his stake at Eikestad mall, starting from when he was a councillor in 2016.

De Villiers insisted he was personally a 2% minority shareholder with no powers to take decisions, saying that was the domain of majority shareholder Attacq, who owned 80% shares.

He said his former and current public positions also did not give powers influence powers of the Stellenbosch municipality.

Apart from the tenderpreneur MPs, the register of members' interests make for an interesting read, with some legislators declaring all sorts of quirky gifts - from tinned fish to immune boosters.

Deputy president David Mabuza, who recently returned from a lengthy stay in Russia where he was receiving medical attention, was “blessed” with bottles of sanitisers, herbal tea and immune boosters from Eswatini's King Mswati.

And as for former finance minister Tito Mboweni, it seems his passion for tinned fish was recognised by “the executives of Lucky Star”, who gifted him “a pilchard goodies hamper and a cookbook”.

Mboweni also received a similar gift pack from the head honchos of bean maker Koo, and wines from KWV.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina, who was exposed by the Sunday Times for getting her parliamentary caucus to award a company owned by her son a R52,000 PPE tender, has declared 2,000 face masks worth R60,000 from the MTN foundation.

Majodina has also declared 50 blankets worth R180 each and 100 hampers each worth R200 from the Alimdaad Foundation, totalling R29,000.

ANC MP Boy Mamabolo was one of the lucky MPs to receive a gift in the form of a car worth R80,000 from ISCARS. He also declared 40% shareholding in his foundation, with a nominal value of R400,000.

Higher education minister Blade Nzimande has put on the record a R16,500 phone from Huawei, while police minister Bheki Cele declared two tickets to the 2019 Durban July valued at R4,000.

The consulate general of China took a liking to National Assembly deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, gifting him with R40,000 worth of food parcels, R30,000 worth of PPEs, and R30,000 worth of printing material.

The DA’s Hendrik Kruger was gifted with shares worth R200,000 in a company called Brick Property Investment, by his sister-in-law. Solly Malatji, who just completed a fundraising run from Johannesburg to Limpopo, received gifts and sponsorship worth R40,000 from sports firm Asics SA in the form of running clothes and shoes.

Another DA MP and chief whip, Natasha Mazzone, has registered a R1,500 monthly hair tinting and styling gift from Palladium.

The wife and son of ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe have respectively blessed him with a suit worth R14,000 and socks to the tune of R60.

Inmates at the Kimberley prison have gifted justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola with a handmade wall watch worth R700 while Huawei bosses gave him two bottles of 15-year-old Glenfiddich single-malt whisky.

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