28 July 2014

South Africa: Over a Quarter of Cabinet Have Business Ties - Report

Johannesburg — Nineteen members of the 72-person strong government cabinet -- including President Jacob Zuma -- have private business interests, the City Press newspaper reported on Sunday.

According to records from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), Zuma is listed as owning an active company called Michigan Investments that was registered in 1992. However, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said that the company was not in operation.

"We are looking at having it removed from the CIPC register," he told the newspaper. While Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is listed as a member of two companies and the director of at least 40 -- his spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said that Ramaphosa was withdrawing from day-to-day operations at the companies; as well as being in the process of putting his interests into a blind trust. This is a kind of trust whereby the beneficiary has no knowledge of or right to intervene in the handling of the holdings by trustees.

Other ministers with business links include Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene; Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, Justice Minister Michael Masutha, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, Minister of Women in the presidency Susan Shabangu --along with a number of deputy ministers.

The City Press reported that some of the ministers with business links who were contacted said they would be resigning from their posts. Cabinet members and members of Parliament have until August 15 to declare their business interests to Parliament. ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said that as long as these business interests were declared to Parliament: "Nothing stops them from participating in business, as long as there is no conflict of interest".

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