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Cape Town - DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has written to Speaker Max Sisulu seeking urgent clarification from the Presidency following weekend reports that President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament when he said he had a bond on his private home in Nkandla.
In the letter dated November 19, Mazibuko told Sisulu that if Zuma had indeed misled Parliament, “it reflects so negatively on the office of the president that it warrants the most urgent consideration by the National Assembly”.
“President Zuma must be provided with an opportunity to clarify these reports. I therefore request that you procure the relevant facts and clarity from the Presidency about the status of [Zuma’s] bond.”
Mazibuko told Sisulu that as Speaker, he was “appropriately placed” to do this “in a manner which takes into account the privacy of the president and the need to ensure that Parliament is not brought into disrepute”.
She said a failure by Parliament to obtain such clarification would cast “an unfortunate shadow” over the statements made by Zuma “and in doing so, undermine Parliament’s integrity”.
“In [the] light of the reports this past weekend, it is essential that Parliament acts with speed to ensure that this matter is put to rest,” said Mazibuko.
Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota also called for clarity on the subject. He said misleading Parliament was a serious offence under section 89 of the constitution.
Responding to questions in the National Assembly last week, Zuma said that when he decided to extend his home, he had “engaged the bank and I’m still paying a bond”.
City Press reported on Sunday that Zuma’s property, portion 27 of reserve 19 of farm number 15 839, Nkandla, was part of the land owned by the Ingonyama Trust, headed by King Goodwill Zwelithini.
The trust had no record of a bond registered against this property, the newspaper reported.
Writing in his blog, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos said that in “exceptional circumstances” a politician could be found guilty of fraud for lying to Parliament. “Fraud is committed when a person makes an intentional and unlawful misrepresentation to the actual or potential detriment of other individuals or institutions,” De Vos wrote.
“When the misrepresentation is in the form of an omission, the law requires additionally that the misrepresentation should have been made under circumstances where there was a duty on the fraudster to disclose the information.”
De Vos said if there was indeed no bond registered over Nkandla and if Zuma had misled Parliament, “the question is whether he is guilty of a criminal offence”.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj said Zuma was on record as having told Parliament that he had a bond. “Before you ask that question [whether Zuma misled Parliament], you know that the president addressed Parliament and he is on record,” he said.
“But I’ve got no comment to make [on the letter] except to say that it is communication between [Mazibuko] and the Speaker of Parliament. She’s not even saying she has evidence.”
Durban businessman Vivian Reddy has come out in support of Zuma, saying he funded the first phase of development at Nkandla.