South Africa: Ramaphosa Suspends Dipuo Peters

But only for a month

President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Dipuo Peters for one month.

In a statement on Friday, the Presidency said the decision followed a sanction adopted by Parliament's Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests against Peters.

In 2023, rail activist organisation #UniteBehind lodged complaints with Parliament about the conduct of Peters, who is a member of the ANC and was transport minister from 2013 to 2017.

Peters was accused of state capture breaches at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) while she was Minister of Transport, including dismissing the board headed by Popo Molefe after it uncovered R14-billion in irregular expenditure, using PRASA buses for ANC events without ensuring payment, and failing to appoint a CEO when required.

In October 2023, Parliament's Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests found that Peters had breached the Code of Conduct while she was Minister of Transport. She was sanctioned and suspended for one term.

She challenged this decision by filing an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court in January. Peters denied wrongdoing and argued that the decision to suspend her from Parliament was irrational and unconstitutional. Her application was dismissed with costs.

In February, #UniteBehind also sent an urgent letter to Ramaphosa requesting he axe Peters because of her alleged role in enabling looting at PRASA while she was the transport minister.

"The Committee found that Ms Peters had breached the Code of Ethical Conduct in her former portfolio as Minister of Transport. Consequently, Ms Peters was sanctioned and suspended for one term," the Presidency said.

Peters's suspension, which will be without pay, became effective on 28 February and will end on 28 March 2024.

#UniteBehind leader Zackie Achmat said Ramaphosa's action "should have been taken years ago".

"Instead of dismissing Peters, he has chosen the softest and easiest option out to suspend her for a month," Achmat said.

He said although it is important that Peters' was suspended without pay, Ramaphosa is "perpetuating the criminality by allowing those parties who are guilty of facilitating state capture to get away with a slap on the wrist".

"If we hadn't complained and taken legal action, Cyril Ramaphosa would not have acted," Achmat said.

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