Speaker waiting for Zuma’s response

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iol news pic baleka mbete INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has declared equity shares totalling about R27 million. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Parliament - Speaker Baleka Mbete says she will decide how to handle the findings of the Nkandla expenditure once President Jacob Zuma hands her his response to investigations into the controversy.

“At that point we will ourselves be in a position to see what it is and how best to deal with the matter,” Mbete told journalists at Parliament on Thursday.

She was briefing reporters on Zuma's state-of-the-nation address next week.

Mbete confirmed Zuma wrote to her a week ago to indicate he had received the Special Investigating Unit's provisional report on the R246 million security upgrades at his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, and would respond to Parliament on the three probes into the matter within 30 working days.

Mbete, who is also national chairwoman of the ANC, has been under pressure from the opposition to establish a new ad hoc committee to mull the matter, but has twice refused on the technical grounds that the power to do so lies not with her but with the National Assembly.

She disputes the Democratic Alliance's contention that she indeed has the power to set up a committee - as her predecessor Max Sisulu did earlier this year - because the National Assembly has not been in sitting for more than two weeks.

It last met on May 21 and the opposition party and the speaker are now at loggerheads over whether it is technically in adjournment, giving her the power to create a committee.

DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said on Thursday the issue was unlikely to go away, since Zuma's letter suggested he would respond around July 16 Ä when the Assembly would be in its winter recess.

Zuma in April notified Parliament that he would wait to respond in full to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings on Nkandla until he had had insight into the outcome of a separate probe by the SIU.

He wrote to Mbete on June 4 to say that he had received the SIU's provisional report.

On Thursday, the SIU said it had submitted the report to Zuma in mid-April.

“Following a request for a progress report on its investigation, the SIU submitted a progress report to the presidency on 15 April 2014,” SIU spokesman Boy Ndala said.

“The SIU is in the process of compiling its final report,” Ndala added.

Madonsela found that Zuma had derived undue benefit from the upgrades to his homestead, which included a cattle kraal, a swimming pool, and an amphitheatre.

While campaigning for the May elections, the president told rallies this was not true and appeared to reject her recommendation that he should pay for part of the project out of his own pocket.

Madonsela has said that she would like to address Parliament if the legislature were to decide to debate her 450-page report on Nkandla.

Sapa



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