ANC ditches debate on Nkandla

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Independent Newspapers

The cost to the public of the Nkandla debacle is set to climb well over the R246 million bill for the project itself. File picture: Doctor Ngcobo

Cape Town - The ANC has effectively dissolved the Nkandla ad hoc committee, meaning President Jacob Zuma will not have to face Parliament on the matter before the elections.

On Monday, the ANC used its majority in the committee, with the help of the IFP, and recommended that it be left up to South Africa’s fifth Parliament – to be convened after the May 7 elections – to consider the matter. But not before things got heated between the ANC and opposition MPs, forcing committee chairman Cedric Frolick to call for calm.

The ANC told the ad hoc committee meeting – the committee’s second – that it was running on “injury time” and would not be able to properly consider submissions made by Zuma on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s damning report.

The report found Zuma and his family “unduly benefited” from the R215 million security upgrades at his private Nkandla residence.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said after the meeting that the party welcomed the decision to carry the matter over to the next Parliament.

“The ad hoc committee agreed that, in the light of the huge workload before the committee pertaining to its mandate, the extreme importance of the matter under consideration and thoroughness with which the committee is expected to deal with it, the matter should be referred to the next Parliament for proper consideration.

“The Rules of the Assembly provide for such a committee to be resuscitated with a similar mandate by the incoming Parliament,” said Sizani.

His deputy, Doris Dlakude, told the meeting earlier that Parliament would “still exist” after May 7.

“And there will be members of Parliament from all the parties who are equal to the task,” said Dlakude.

She thanked the IFP’s Narend Singh “for using your brains and not your emotions”.

Singh was the only opposition party member to vote in favour of the ANC motion.

“We want justice, South Africa wants justice. We need to do this work thoroughly. There’s no rush. Why are we rushing as if there’ll be no tomorrow after May 7? This is what we thought after using our brains and not emotions,” said Dlakude.

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko told the meeting that the ANC’s motion basically meant the committee “must do no work”.

“I believe this is a pretty shameful state of affairs. The ANC claims it does not have enough time, that this committee does not have enough time to do the work, yet it fails to define what the work is,” said Mazibuko. This led to objections from ANC MP Cecil Burgess, who took exception to Mazibuko’s use of the word “shameful”.

“Even the most conservative commentators have agreed that we are now playing in injury time. And it’s not shameful. I think you should be more conservative with your words. It’s a very nasty word to use to say that our behaviour is shameful. I think you’re getting to an area of insult now,” said Burgess before asking Mazibuko to apologise and withdraw her statement.

Frolick intervened, calling on members to stop the “name calling”.

“The very image of the institution that you want to uphold, in the last days of the institution, you are making remarks to one another that in fact could well portray the institution in a very negative light outside,” said Frolick.

He called on MPs to uphold Parliament’s “decorum”.

This didn’t stop DA MP Wilmot James from joining in, describing the word “shameful” as a “light word”.

“What is happening is scandalous,” said James.

He accused the ANC caucus of getting its orders from Luthuli House.

The ANC’s Buti Manamela said the opposition’s intentions were “to use this process for pure politicking and electioneering”.

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