Cape Town - The ANC will not only support the re-establishment of Parliament’s ad hoc committee on the public protector’s Nkandla report, but will move for this to be done as soon as President Jacob Zuma has submitted his response to Parliament.
“What do you mean ‘support it’? We will establish it as soon as we have the response of the president,” said ANC chief whip Stone Sizani on the eve of the party’s caucus lekgotla in Cape Town this weekend.
The ANC has never said it is opposed to establishing a new committee, but has labelled opposition calls for this to be done premature, amid threats of court action after Speaker Baleka Mbete said it was not her decision.
Zuma came in for heavy criticism during the debate on the Presidency budget vote this week for failing to address the question many saw as the elephant in the room – his long-awaited, and overdue, response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on her investigation into the Nkandla scandal.
Zuma had committed to delivering his response by last week, but wrote to Mbete from the Brics summit in Brazil to say he was out of the country and would miss the deadline.
The speaker’s office had not received his response by Friday.
As ANC MPs, including all ministers and deputies, prepared for the caucus lekgotla, Sizani said the party would be giving no free passes in this Parliament.
The lekgotla was to draw up a five-year programme of action to ensure effective implementation of the party’s conference resolutions, election manifesto and the National Development Plan.
“There will be no free passes, no loafing. We will be judged on the basis of our effectiveness in providing oversight and being there in the community, and also making sure communities participate in law-making processes,” Sizani said in response to criticism that the party had been reluctant at times to take on the executive in the previous Parliament.
“Our responsibility is not to oppose anybody, but to make sure people are doing what they are supposed to be doing better and more effectively. Our robustness, therefore, is to insist on how best you can achieve value for money and have a better impact on the people.”
He said opposition parties seemed to see their oversight role as a stick to beat the ANC with, rather than adding value to policy or ensuring its proper implementation.
An example was EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu’s refusal to accept the president’s assurance that promised action on the water supply in the Limpopo town of Giyani was on track.
Responding to EFF leader Julius Malema’s claim during the Presidency budget debate that nothing was happening, Zuma outlined a programme for the refurbishing of the water infrastructure, saying work had started and water would flow by September.
But on Friday, Shivambu was ejected from the National Assembly after suggesting Zuma had lied.
Sizani said this showed the EFF’s immaturity and misunderstanding of the work of Parliament.
“You have to look at what the process is. What is the programme, how do you monitor it, and will it be able to talk to people’s needs? Will it be able to make people aware of how they will participate in the process? If you are not allowing people to participate and have information, the members of Parliament surely would be guilty of dereliction of duty.”
Insulting Zuma did nothing to offer alternatives or improve government plans, but was “showing your hatred for the man”.
But Sizani felt the stormy opening season of Parliament would pass and no changes to the rules were needed.
“We are saying: ‘This is a passing phase.’ They will soon understand and learn how it is done in Parliament. Because Parliament is not a rally. You cannot shout at people, you cannot pass slogans. You have to say: ‘Here is what is not working in your policy’ and show it in practice, where it should be changed.”
He asked for the ANC in Parliament to be judged on the five-year plan its caucus would craft this weekend, and how well it stuck to this.