Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma is due to face a question from Economic Freedom Fighters parliamentary leader Julius Malema on Thursday on whether he will respond to the public protector’s report on the taxpayer-funded security upgrades at his Nkandla rural homestead.
This comes two days after the National Assembly by resolution established an ad hoc committee into what is widely dubbed Nkandlagate, to consider the president’s report to Parliament from last Thursday.
The DA’s proposed amendment to ensure the committee’s deliberations would not be limited to just Zuma’s 20-page report was roundly defeated after the ANC said there would be nothing that could not come before that committee.
Zuma in his response to Parliament last week jointly dealt with the public protector’s findings, those arising from a preliminary report of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and a 2013 inter-ministerial task team, and left it to Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko to decide on what he would have to repay.
The various reports all highlight procurement irregularities, for which Public Works officials, the architect and various contractors were blamed.
However, the public protector “Secure in Comfort” report states the president had unduly benefited and must repay at least some of the costs for non-security benefits like the swimming pool, dubbed in other reports the fire pool, the R1 million cattle kraal and visitors’ centre.
On Thursday there is a possibility that given the fact that the Nkandla security upgrade expenditure is now before Parliament, the rules of the national legislature may lead to the disqualification of the question. It has happened before that motions, statements and similar parliamentary measures were disallowed as the matters they touched on were before the House.
However, Malema’s question – “When will Zuma respond to the public protector’s report on the security upgrades at his residence in Nkandla?” – has already appeared on Parliament’s question paper, the official record of parliamentary questions for oral reply.
On Wednesday, the DA was the first out of the blocks – announcing DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, and DA veteran MP and federal executive committee chairman James Selfe – were its two representatives on the ad hoc committee, with DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach as alternate. Discussions among the smaller opposition parties must still settle who will take up their two posts.
The ANC in Parliament said it was “speedily finalising” the list of its six representatives on the committee of 11. .