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Durban - National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu’s office has remained non-committal on whether it intends setting up an ad hoc committee to investigate the R215 million Nkandla security upgrade scandal.
This comes amid reports that DA chief whip Watty Watson and his counterpart in the Freedom Front Plus, Corné Mulder, have confirmed being told the ad hoc committee will be established.
Parliament spokesman Luzuko Jacobs could only say that the Speaker would issue an official announcement when the time was right.
“The story that is doing the rounds now is sourced from political parties commenting, not from Parliament,” Jacobs said yesterday.
“Our official position is to say we will make an announcement if there are developments in that respect.”
Should Parliament go ahead and set up the committee, it could pave the way for a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma.
This is after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s adverse findings that the president and his family benefited unduly and failed to protect public funds from the security upgrades at his Nkandla private residence.
But constitutional law expert Shadrack Gutto questioned the logic of establishing the ad hoc committee to probe the Nkandla saga, following Madonsela’s report.
“The question is to investigate what? Investigate the public protector’s report?” Gutto asked. “It is both unlawful and unethical, as well as political.
“The political aspect is to be read in the actions that are being taken by the president as the owner of the Nkandla property and the unlawful things that are being taken. That is trying political gimmicks that have been seen to be the order of the day. That is very unfortunate.”
The security cluster of ministers also waded into the Nkandla debate on Tuesday, insisting on their earlier stance that they still needed “clarity” on certain aspects of Madonsela’s report.
“Based on this, there are several areas on which we require further information and clarification. A letter has been sent to the public protector in this regard and we will now wait for her reply,” said cabinet spokeswoman Phumla Williams.
Gutto expressed dismay at this and Zuma’s statements that he would await the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) Nkandla report.
“My legal point is that the public protector doesn’t need the SIU report or security cluster or what another committee of Parliament have done.
“How can you investigate a report over another investigation and on what to the law is legal and final?
“Here we are dealing with a situation where executive and Parliament are not carrying out their responsibilities (by enforcing the public protector’s Nkandla report).”
He said Parliament, the security cluster and Zuma himself were trying to buy time.
“Really it is the one thing that is unfortunate. The president as the owner of the Nkandla property that has been declared a national key point should have responded accordingly. It’s damaging the integrity of Parliament and public confidence in chapter nine institutions that whatever they do will not be implemented.”
Meanwhile, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko reacted angrily to the security cluster’s statements seeking clarity from Madonsela, telling the ministers to “back off”.
“The security cluster must understand that the public protector is not accountable to the executive, but rather to Parliament and the constitution. Advocate Madonsela has fulfilled her obligations by reporting on the findings emanating from her investigation,” she said.
Earlier, she had welcomed Sisulu’s intentions to set up the committee, despite her party’s not receiving official confirmation. “In the face of President Zuma’s refusal to apologise to the nation, accept responsibility for this wrongdoing, and provide Parliament with all information, as requested by the public protector, the National Assembly must now use its powers to force answers.”