File photo: Independent Media
Johannesburg - A row has erupted over a report of Parliament’s legal services, which identified people who misled the ad hoc committee that investigated the affairs of the SABC.

The report was handed to the office of Speaker Baleka Mbete by the legal services about a month ago, but it has yet to be officially tabled in Parliament.

The ad hoc committee found that, in many instances, the evidence provided by witnesses was contradictory.

It then recommended that the evidence leader should analyse the testimonies and that Parliament’s legal services should make appropriate recommendations.

Since the report was finalised last month, the DA has been attempting to access it, without success, despite filing an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

On Thursday, DA MP Mike Waters accused Parliament’s Acting Secretary Penelope Tyawa of having joined Mbete in withholding the report from being tabled. This was after Tyawa denied his application.

In a letter to Waters, dated July 6, Tyawa said the report was with Mbete: “The Speaker intends to refer the report to the relevant structures of the National Assembly in accordance (with) the National Assembly's rules.”

Tyawa assured Waters that he would be granted access to the report after its submission to Parliament by the end of August or soon thereafter. 

She also advised him that he could make a written submission after 30 days on receipt of her letter on why he should be granted access to the report before it was tabled.

Waters described the undertaking to table the report next month as “vague” and the reason for denying him access to it as “laughable”.

“Parliament’s legal services unit completed the report and submitted it to Parliament on June 5 via its representative, the National Assembly Speaker. It is now precisely the representative of Parliament, Baleka Mbete, who is protecting the persons implicated in the report by refusing to table it, which she is required to do without delay,” he said.

Waters said the report clearly implicated senior ANC and government officials, and that Mbete was once again prioritising her role as ANC chairperson over her role as Speaker.

“Despite Mbete’s efforts, the DA will not allow those who misled the SABC inquiry or who provided false testimony, under oath, to escape accountability."

“Lying to Parliament is a serious offence and will not go unpunished,” he said.

Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said Mbete had to write to implicated people, inviting them to make submissions by the end of July on the serious allegations they faced.

“In terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, a person who wilfully furnishes a House or committees with information, or makes a statement before it, which is false or misleading, is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both the fine and imprisonment.”

Mothapo also said Mbete would, after the lapse of the deadline, pass the list of the affected individuals and their submissions over to the committee.

“The speaker is in no position to disclose the names of the affected individuals publicly before a committee process has begun."

“Any insinuation that the speaker seeks to quash a parliamentary probe into these allegations is erroneous and without basis,” he added.

The Star