Parliament - The ANC on Tuesday objected to a DA motion calling for Parliament to set up a committee to consider the Nkandla controversy without delay, all but ensuring the opposition will take the matter to court.
ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani accused his DA counterpart John Steenhuisen of “springing a surprise” by raising it as a motion without notice, and found support from Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.
“We encourage consultation,” he told Steenhuisen.
Sizani's office added in a statement the motion would not be attended to immediately but noted for future consideration. It went on to say that there was no point in rushing President Jacob Zuma to respond to the outcome of investigations into state spending on his Nkandla homestead.
“Any undue pressure exerted on the president in this regard will only serve to undermine the qualitative process with which Parliament ought to deal with the issue.”
Earlier, the DA said if the motion did not “see immediate outcomes”, it would go to court invoking section 181 of the Constitution to compel Zuma to answer to Parliament on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings.
He said Zuma was undermining her office by failing to respond to her report more than 130 days after she gave him two weeks to do so.
“The DA will consider launching a court application to compel the president to submit his full and comprehensive response, so as to end this unconstitutional undermining of the public protector.
“This will become necessary should our motion today to establish the Nkandla ad hoc committee not see immediate outcomes.”
Section 181 of the Constitution obliges organs of state to help and protect Chapter Nine institutions, like the protector, to ensure their effectiveness.
In her report, titled “Secure in Comfort” and released in March, Madonsela found Zuma had benefited unduly from the work at Nkandla and should pay back a portion of the money spent to the state.
Selfe said Zuma's partial reply to Madonsela in April fell short of what was required of him by law.
“He certainly didn't give his comments and actions. He certainly didn't take the actions that are required of him to repay what was clearly upgrades to his own personal residence.
“He now needs to tell Parliament what he is going to do about it.”
At the weekend, Sizani said Parliament would reconstitute an ad hoc committee on Nkandla once the president made his written submission to Parliament to indicate how he planned to handle the matter.
But DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said this commitment lacked a clear time frame and the opposition therefore feared the president was likely to delay his response further.
“It is very open-ended and in many ways gives the president an open cheque to do in this instance as he pleases. So in the absence of a deadline for the president to submit his reply, and his current trend for feet-dragging in other matters, we hold no confidence and no weight to the statement that was issued by the ANC.”
The DA said it was imperative that an ad hoc committee considered Madonsela's findings, Zuma's response and suitable punishment for any wrongdoing related to the project. It should invite Zuma to appear before it, the party said.
In June Zuma undertook to give a comprehensive response to the Speaker within 30 working days, but this month said he would only do so once the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) had completed its probe.
The SIU said its work had been delayed, in part because its investigators were granted access to Nkandla only more than six months after the president issued a proclamation authorising the probe in December.
Maimane laid the blame for this at Zuma's door.