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Cape Town - DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko says she wants an urgent meeting with National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu in her push for President Jacob Zuma to be impeached over the R215 million taxpayer-funded security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.
Mazibuko is to announce further steps on Monday that the DA intends to take over the Nkandla saga.
This follows the weekend’s acrimonious exchanges, set to be taken to the electoral court, between the ANC and DA over the opposition party’s electioneering SMS, which says: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on May 7 to beat corruption. Together for change.”
In their initial responses to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report, “Secure in Comfort”, on Nkandla, the government and the ANC welcomed the conclusion that there had been no political interference and said last week that the findings were broadly similar to those of the Public Works task team – whose report, declassified after a year, blamed officials for cost escalations.
The cabinet said a probe by the Special Investigating Unit into possible criminal charges was at an advanced stage.
Mazibuko said Parliament could not be allowed to become part of a whitewash, particularly amid concerns that the ANC or the government would take the findings to court on review.
“We cannot allow this cover-up to be extended to Parliament. The Speaker must do everything possible to ensure that this impeachment motion – mandated by the constitution – is duly considered and that members of Parliament are provided with the opportunity to consider removing the president from office,” Mazibuko said.
While analysts agree the Nkandla saga will not disappear any time soon, they cast doubt on whether an impeachment move would succeed.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota said the ANC would use its majority in the National Assembly to defeat any call for the president’s removal from office.
According to section 89 of the constitution, a president may be removed by a resolution of the National Assembly, supported by two thirds of MPs, because of “a serious violation of the constitution or the law”, “serious misconduct” or “inability to perform the functions of office”. Any president so removed would forfeit all benefits of his office and may not serve in public office again.
Madonsela found Zuma had not misled Parliament, but his behaviour had been “inconsistent” with his office, the executive ethics code of conduct and the constitutional obligation to spend state funds prudently. Zuma should also repay at least some of the costs for the “non-security” features provided at Nkandla, such as the swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run and visitors’ centre, the public protector found.
The 447-page report outlined systematic failures to adhere to government policy and prescripts and a lack of political leadership that it said contributed to the costs ballooning from an initial R27m to R215m. Final costs may exceed a conservative estimate of R246m, according to the report.
The ANC’s national executive committee meets this week, but there has been no official indication of whether it will discuss the public protector’s report.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday: “Obviously we may talk about the issue.”
Emerging markets economist Peter Attard Montalto said while Nkandla might raise interesting questions around the elections and Zuma’s power in the ANC, “Zuma’s position in the ANC has not been weakened significantly by this. He has come through similar scandals and corruption cases in the past.”