South Africa

Benched for a month: Ramaphosa suspends Dipuo Peters for ethical breach

Dipuo Peters suspended for a month

On Friday the Presidency announced the suspension of Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Dipuo Peters for a month, starting from Wednesday and ending on March 28.

Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members Interests brought the sanction against her for breaching the Code of Ethical Conduct during her time as minister of transport.

Peters was hauled before the committee after three complaints laid against her in September 2022.

Allegations

The suspension comes after a complaint was lodged against Peters by #UniteBehind, a non-profit organisation (NPO).

One of the complaints alleged that she had been neglectful in her previous role as transport minister by failing to appoint a Group CEO of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) Peters’ defence before the commission of inquiry into state capture “indicated that she did not appoint a permanent Group CEO because Prasa was not ready for a new Group CEO”.

ALSO READ: Parliament resolves to suspend Dipuo Peters, EFF’s Floyd Shivambu docked nine days salary

Prasa suffered a financial loss of R1.7 million which was paid to the recruitment company because of Peters’ actions.

Adding to the fuel, the former minister dismissed the Prasa board – then led by former chairperson Popo Molefe – seemingly because it had revealed R14 billion of irregular expenditure and set in motion investigations into corruption at the railway agency.

In 2017, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled Peters’ behaviour in dissolving the board and trying to halt the investigations into Prasa corruption was irrational, unreasonable and unlawful.

ALSO READ: Dipuo Peters ‘should be suspended from Parliament’ – Ethics Committee

Moreover, Peters approved the use of Prasa buses for African National Congress (ANC) events without payment from the party.

Consequences

As a result Peters sat out one term of the parliamentary programme, serving her sanction and suspension punishments concurrently as ruled by the committee.

“The member failed to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in her, and discharge her obligations, in terms of the Constitution, to Parliament and the public at large, by placing the public interest above her own interests,” the committee’s statement read.

In her current suspension, Peters is suspended from taking part in all parliamentary debates, sittings, committee meetings, functions, and operations.

“The suspension, which will be without pay, became effective on 28 February 2024 and will end on 28 March 2024,” the presidency’s statement read.