National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega File photo: Ian Landsberg

Cape Town -

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega is just another ANC scapegoat for the government’s R215 million Nkandla expenditure, says DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko.

She says Phiyega, who has been accused by ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe of having misled the ruling party by describing a swimming pool at President Jacob Zuma’s private home as a “fire pool”, is being used as a “distraction”.

The DA defended Phiyega on Monday after she was hung out to dry by the ANC following the release of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report.

Last week, Mantashe said Phiyega lied when she described a swimming pool as a “fire pool” and urged Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, who is implicated in the report, to take action against her.

Mazibuko said it was very “disappointing” in the first place that Phiyega showed up at last year’s press conference to explain the Nkandla expenditure instead of leading the fight against crime.

“In a country with massive crime problem she was at a press conference explaining why a swimming pool was a fire pool. But this is the extent to which the ANC was willing to go, subverting independent institutions in order to justify President Zuma’s spending of public money on luxuries for his home,” said Mazibuko.

She added that Phiyega was just a distraction.

“The ANC is holding out what looks like an important individual in this matter. In terms of the Nkandla issue she was tangential and she’s been held out as a little bit of bait in order to try (to) make it look like the ANC is holding those accountable, accountable. The truth is the only people responsible and the principal people responsible in this matter are the president and the relevant ministers and they must do the right thing and resign.”

She said the situation was made worse by efforts to dig out previous ministers like former public works minister Geoff Doidge and to blame the private sector for inflating prices.

DA parliamentary caucus chairman Wilmot James said the attack on Phiyega was both ironic and hypocritical.

“I mean, Riah should have been held out to dry for Marikana by the police minister (and not Nkandla),” said James.

The DA has also called for Zuma’s repayment plan to be tabled in Parliament.

“In light of this concerted effort both to undermine and ignore the report, the DA will redouble our efforts to ensure accountability - from the top down. I can therefore announce today that I will write to both President Jacob Zuma and the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, calling for the full repayment plan for the money owed by the president to South Africa to be tabled in Parliament and made public,” Mazibuko added.

Cape Times