By Gaye Davis
Eye Witness News

The Black Business Council (BBC) has launched a fierce attack on the Financial Intelligence Centre (Fica) Amendment Bill, saying it will criminalise black business people. BBC President Danisa Baloyi made the claim a short while ago at Parliament.

“How do we make sure that we are not assumed to be criminals as business people? How can we be sure this Fica Act, if it becomes an act, is not going to be used to criminalise us as it has started?”

President Jacob Zuma sent the bill back to Parliament nearly six months after it was passed, after being petitioned by the BBC and the Progressive Professionals Forum.

Senior advocates have told Wednesday’s hearing that the Bill is not unconstitutional.

The Banking Association of South Africa and Business Unity South Africa say that the bill is crucial in the fight against money laundering and other corrupt financial practices.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution’s Lawson Naidoo says: “Our concern is that any delay in the promulgation of the Fica Bill leaves South Africa with a deficient statutory and regulatory framework for any money laundering measures, and the combating of terrorism funding. It continues to undermine our compliance with our international obligations.”

PPF THREATENS TO TAKE ZUMA TO COURT IF BILL SIGNED

The PPF’s Mzwanele Manyi has threatened to go to court to stop President Zuma from signing the Fica Amendment Bill into law.

Manyi and the BCC have raised a range of objections to the Bill, which they spelled out to Zuma when they petitioned him not to sign it last year.

Senior advocates have made it clear that parliament can only consider the concern the president raised – but the BBC and the PPF want the entire bill reviewed.

Manyi says: “We will actually interdict the president in a court of law, to say to the court that if the president does he would not be doing his duty in upholding the Constitution.”

Members of Parliament have been told that anyone acting with honesty and integrity should have nothing to fear from the Fica Amendment Bill, which aims to target money laundering, white collar crime and other corrupt financial practices.

The Economic Freedom Fighters accused Zuma of pandering to “criminal syndicates” by not signing the bill and sending it back to parliament.

Busa and other organisations say it needs to become law urgently to bolster the fight against corruption.