Cape Town - Tuesday is D-Day for the ANC and EFF to name their representatives to the ad hoc committee dealing with President Jacob Zuma’s response to reports about the taxpayer-funded R215 million security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
According to parliamentary rules, political parties have a maximum of five days to name their representatives to an ad hoc committee.The DA’s parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and veteran MP James Selfe are to serve on the 11-strong committee.
Once all names are submitted, including the two MPs representing the 10 smaller parties, the committee’s first date of sitting will be scheduled.
This effectively means Nkandla will remain top of the agenda after Thursday’s EFF disruption of Zuma’s question time with chants of “pay back the money” - a reference to the public protector’s finding that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from non-security upgrades like the swimming pool and cattle kraal, and should repay at least some of the costs.
On Sunday, verbal sparring erupted over a letter the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, wrote to Zuma, asking him to respond specifically to her report within 14 days following his joint response to several Nkandla-related probes.
The DA called for Madonsela to formally table the letter before the ad hoc committee.
Maimane said: “The president has long strung the public protector, Parliament, and the people of South Africa along in his reply to the damning findings of undue personal benefit at Nkandla, and his contempt for accountability is now fully exposed”.
However, the ANC in Parliament disagreed. “We are concerned that the public protector, rather than respecting the current parliamentary process, seems to react to political events or jumping on political bandwagons,” said ANC chief whip Stone Sizani’s office.
“The irony of the public protector’s letter to the president is that, while it makes serious accusations regarding the president’s alleged undermining of democratic institutions, she herself elects a path that undermines the authority of the legislative sphere of government, Parliament and its constitutional processes,” it said.
Madonsela initially requested the president’s response when she released the 447-page Secure in Comfort report in late March. However, Zuma argued for time, given that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was also probing the Nkandla expenditure.
The president submitted a 20-page response earlier this month in which he jointly dealt with all reports into the Nkandla security upgrades, including the public protector, the SIU preliminary findings and the 2013 inter-ministerial task team report. The SIU, which earlier this month launched a court challenge to reclaim R155m from the project architect, only handed its final report to Zuma on Wednesday August 20.
In his response to Parliament, the president said it would be up to Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, who serves at Zuma’s pleasure in the cabinet, to determine, if, and how much he would have to repay.
Thursday’s chaos in the National Assembly started when Malema was on his feet with a question relating to the date of repayment after his original question on the president’s response to the public protector’s report was answered by Zuma that “... I responded to all the reports as I am supposed to and I hope we are not going to have a debate because I have responded appropriately”.
The fall-out from the disruption is anticipated to reverberate within the national legislature this week. Security is to be stepped up, while also expected is the announcement of a committee to investigate the incident, including possible sanctions against EFF MPs
However, the official minutes of the sittings in Parliament’s papers reflect little of the drama.”1. The House met at 14:10. 2. The Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation. 3. [14:10] Questions- President. Business suspended at 14:58 due to grave disorder in terms of rule 56 and resumed at 16:15. 4. The House adjourned at 16:17.