DA wants Parliament to investigate Zuma for role in Guptagate
Parliament should investigate President Jacob Zuma's alleged involvement in the landing of a private aircraft at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
"I asked Parliament to establish an ad hoc committee in terms of rule 214(1), to investigate President Zuma's conduct in the Guptagate scandal," Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said in a statement.
Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson reportedly said in an affidavit at a military tribunal that she was told by Bruce Koloane that Zuma had been aware of the plan and had personally asked about progress.
Koloane was the chief of state protocol at the time, but has since been demoted. A report by the justice department said he and other senior officials had acted alone. Anderson was accused, in a government task team report, of colluding with Koloane to authorise the landing.
Allegations about Zuma's involvement were refuted as hearsay by the presidency last week. "While it would not be appropriate to discuss matters that are being addressed at the tribunal, we wish to state categorically that there is no truth to the allegation," presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said at the time.
On Tuesday, Mazibuko said: "In response to my request and substantive motion, the then acting speaker of the National Assembly Nomaindia Mfeketo maintained that these reports did not constitute prima facie evidence for an investigation to take place.
"Furthermore, she asserted that a breach of the executive ethics code was to be investigated by the public protector and Parliament could not conduct a concurrent investigation."
She said Mfeketo's reasoning was flawed as the reports of Zuma's involvement in the April 30 landing emanated from an affidavit. An affidavit was substantive evidence, and if the acting speaker disagreed, she should then clarify what standard of substantive evidence she required, Mazibuko said.
Nothing in the Constitution, the Public Protector Act, or the Executive Ethics Act prevented Parliament from conducting a parallel investigation to the public protector's.
"In fact, Parliament has both the constitutional right and duty to investigate the president for violations of the executive ethics code," said Mazibuko.
"Stating that a concurrent investigation with the public protector would reflect negatively on the competence of her office is bizarre and not supported by precedent."
Former communications minister Dina Pule was investigated by both Parliament and the public protector at the same time.
Mazibuko said she set out her case to in a letter to National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu on Tuesday. "The ill-conceived rejection of my substantive motion for the establishment of this ad hoc committee must be revised."
Zuma had again brought the integrity of the office of the presidency into question, and as members of Parliament and in the public interest, they had a duty and responsibility to ensure the matter was fully investigated, she said.
This was so that if there was wrongdoing by the president, he would be held accountable.
"The Constitution holds that Parliament represents the people of South Africa by scrutinising and overseeing executive action. The DA will ensure that this provision is upheld," she said.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said on Wednesday that sharing information about the military tribunal into the aircraft's landing was against the law. "In accordance with… the Military Discipline Supplementary Measures Act 16 of 1999, the proceedings at a preliminary investigation are held in camera," SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said in a statement.
"Those who are responsible for discussing in the media the preliminary investigation proceedings must refrain from such as it is in contravention of the ... Act. The SANDF military courts regard this matter as sub judice."
A chartered commercial aircraft, Jet Airways flight JAI 9900 from India, ferrying more than 200 guests to the wedding of Vega Gupta (23) and Indian-born Aakash Jahajgarhia, landed at the base in April.
The landing sparked widespread criticism and several investigations were launched. The government investigation exonerated Zuma and his ministers, and found that the landing was the result of "collusion by officials". – Sapa