Open letter to Dr B Bam (Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission) and Ms B Mbete (Speaker of Parliament) regarding Concerns about party political financial irregularities and floor-crossing from Bantu Holomisa, MP - UDM President (6 September 2007)

Dear Madams

The abovementioned matter refers.

I am concerned that political parties may institute disciplinary and legal steps against members, yet due to the nature of our legal system it is possible for these to be dragged out until a floor-crossing window opens. At this point it is virtually impossible for parties to prevent people suspected of serious financial irregularities from defecting and effectively scuppering any further investigations. I raise this issue with your good offices since political parties are funded with taxpayer money through both of your institutions and it is therefore incumbent upon you to ensure that this taxpayer money is not misappropriated or wasted.

Take for instance the United Independent Front (UIF) who has in this current floor-crossing period lost several of its senior members who were responsible for finances and/or had signing powers on that organisation's accounts. Who will be held accountable for that organisation's finances when it has lost most of its leaders and the remaining members may have little or no knowledge or understanding of the organisations finances?

I'm raising this because I have been informed by concerned UIF members that they feel duped by leaders of the UIF who had not delivered anything that they had initially promised and instead used constituency funding to fight a succession of costly court battles against each other. Apparently UIF constituency offices have been closed as a result. If this is indeed the case, then the members of that organisation and taxpayers in general have been defrauded.

I am calling on you to contact all political parties to check whether the people who defected were responsible for constituency allowances and IEC funding. In the event that some of those defectors cannot account for funding, did not properly hand over finances or there are outstanding questions about their financial decisions, I am suggesting that defections (whether at local, provincial or national level) should be suspended until both your institutions (or the relevant legislative presiding officer) have satisfied yourself that the defector can account for any taxpayer funds that he/she may have been responsible for or had signing powers over.

It is, in my humble opinion, a dangerous and irresponsible act to allow people to defect without a proper financial handover to their original organisation of all the relevant financial and administrative records. It is unfair that should any fraud or irregularity later be discovered, it will be the political party alone that will be held responsible when the person who committed those transgressions has moved on to "greener pastures".

It becomes even more unsavoury when such people defect to the ruling party, who is supposed to be one of the leading custodians of democracy and democratic institutions like Parliament and the IEC. The unpleasant question immediately arises whether possible fraudsters are being protected at the expense of democracy and accountability to the taxpayer.

Kind regards
Bantu Holomisa, MP
UDM President