141012: PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla bove: Part of the 20-unit luxury compound built close to P\[fiona.stent\]the president Jacob Zuma s house as part of the R232-million expansion. Top: The Zuma homestead and surroundings in 2009, left, and the development as it looks now, right. Pictures: DOCTOR NGCOBO and GCINA NDWALANE Picture: DOCTOR NGCOBO

Parliament - President Jacob Zuma has undertaken to give the Speaker a "comprehensive and final report" on the Nkandla controversy within 30 working days.

 In a letter dated June 4, Zuma told National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete he was in a position to do so because he had seen the Special Investigating Unit's provisional report on improvements at his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

"I am now in receipt of the provisional report requested from the head of the Special Investigating Unit... While the report is still provisional, it has provided me with the insight I require in order to give consideration to the matter, having equal regard to the other reports to which I allude in my earlier correspondence," Zuma wrote.

"Accordingly, I am intent on providing you Madam Speaker with a comprehensive and final report within the next 30 working days."

This was published in Parliament's list of announcements, tablings, and committee reports for Tuesday.

The president's letter comes amid unsuccessful attempts by the Democratic Alliance to persuade Mbete to re-establish an ad hoc committee to mull the Nkandla controversy.

On Wednesday, James Selfe, the chairman of the DA's federal executive, welcomed Zuma's announcement, saying: "This confirmation indicates some long overdue progress in the matter."

But he said the DA remained adamant about the need to set up a parliamentary committee to consider the president's response, and noted that the expected timing of the report did not bode well for that.

"The 30th working day would fall on 16 July, six days after Parliament is due to adjourn," Selfe said.

"This scenario would of course mean that if a new ad hoc committee on the president’s submissions in response to the Public Protector’s report on the security upgrades to his Nkandla residence were to be established, that decision would in all likelihood lie with the new Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete."

Selfe noted that Mbete's "reluctance to establish a new committee has been clearly visible".

Mbete maintained on Wednesday that the power to set up a committee lay with the National Assembly, unless the chamber were in adjournment for more than 14 weeks.

She claimed it was not, while Selfe said the National Assembly had been adjourned since May 21 when new MPs were sworn in.

The office of ANC chief whip welcomed Zuma's announcement, calling it an indication of how seriously the president viewed the matter.

"It also affirms our long-held view that it would be in the interest of Parliament that it deals with the report of the Public Protector holistically rather than on a piecemeal basis."

The lavish Nkandla project cost the taxpayer R246 million and dogged the president's re-election campaign after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that he had derived "undue benefit" from it.

Madonsela made public her findings in March in a 450-page report and gave Zuma 14 days to respond to it in Parliament.

Zuma kept to that time frame, but declined to comment extensively.

In a letter to the Speaker dated April 1, he said he would await the outcome of the SIU probe as he wanted to consider its findings along with those of Madonsela and the inter-ministerial task team, which also investigated the Nkandla upgrades.

Zuma said it was at this point that he would outline the steps the executive intended to take on the matter.

In her report, Madonsela said Zuma should pay for some of the improvements out of his own pocket.