Exploring MPs’ Interests

Feb. 17, 2014 (5 years, 7 months ago)

One of the interesting datasets that the People’s Assembly collates is the register of members interests - the annual declaration by Members of Parliament of their interests including shares in companies, gifts they have received (with a value in excess of R1 500), and companies of which they are directors.

At present all interests information on the People’s Assembly is accessible via an MP’s profile page, such as this one belonging to Speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu. This leaves a lot of room for more interesting processing of the data (watch this space!), but already we provide an easier way to view declarations from multiple years for a single MP - a task which was frustratingly tedious in the past, requiring searching of each of the long documents released each year.

Browsing through MP’s declarations can be a fascinating process - so below we’ve listed some notable declarations. Let us know in the comments if you spot any more!

In 2012 Lindiwe Mazibuko declared nine sponsorships of amounts ranging between R1 000 and R12 000 (reaching a combined total of R33 500) for her campaign for the DA Parliamentary Caucus Election. That campaign was remarkable for its public nature, and the fact that some DA MPs are amongst those who contributed financially is notable in light of suggestions that the election was controversial inside the party.

Former Minister of Communications Dina Pule reported in 2012 receiving flowers from 38 different gifters - the timing and sources suggest that this might have been in response to her 2011 appointment to the position - and Pule’s sending of flowers to Naledi Pandor after her appointment as Minister of Home Affairs suggests that this might just be a trend that we are ordinarily not aware of because of the R1 500 threshold for the declaration of gifts.

It is evident from the register that ministers who travel receive a lot of gifts from foreign governments, which is unsurprising - but sometimes these can be revealing. In 2012 Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation received a book from the Argentinian ambassador entitled ‘The question of Malvinas Islands’ - no doubt coming in light of the ever ongoing dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the status of the Malvina/Falkland islands. Meanwhile, the other deputy minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, in the same year received ‘The Muslim Brotherhood Plate’ from the Foreign Ministry of Egypt - a gift unlikely to be given in today’s Egypt. Finally, the UK’s Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall gave Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe a framed photograph of themselves - perhaps to remind him of their visit?

Check back in the next month or two once we’ve further improved the browsing experience of the register of members interest - and reveal other stories that can be found in the data.

http://www.parliament.gov.za/live/content.php?Item_ID=235



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