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Cope withdraws from Nkandla special committee

Andisiwe Makinana

Cope has announced it will not form part of the special parliamentary commitee to investigate President Jacob Zuma's response to the Nkandla report.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead as pictured in March 2014. (Madelene Cronje, M&G)

The Congress of the People (Cope) will not be part of the special parliamentary committee established this week to scrutinise President Jacob Zuma's response to the public protector on her investigation of the upgrades at Zuma's Nkandla home.

Cope on Friday said it believes that instead of instituting further investigations on the Nkandla matter, Parliament and the state in general should be concerned with the implementation of public protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendations.

Madonsela had found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited on the upgrading of his home and she called on him to pay back to the state a portion of the money spent on non-security measures such as the swimming pool, amphitheatre, and the cattle kraal with culvert and chicken run.

Cope national spokesperson Johann Abrie said Parliament should not have set up a committee to do more investigations, but that it should have pronounced itself on the implementation of remedial action and "not this waste of time".

The public protector is empowered by national legislation and chapter nine of the Constitution to investigate any conduct in state affairs, or in the public administration in any sphere of government, that is alleged or suspected to be improper.

"Despite her patience with and respect for the office of the president, the first citizen dismissively delayed the investigation, either ignored or provided sloppy responses to some of the questions posed to him and laid to bare his unfaithful relationship with the truth.

"Frankly, President Zuma is so dishonest, we can't even be sure that what he is telling us are lies," Cope said in a statement.

A proper example
Cope said instead of setting a proper example as the custodian of our Constitution and commence with the implementation of the remedial action, Zuma "spends his time to engineer a cunning plan to outwit the public protector".

Abrie said the public protector report was "a meticulous 450-page body of evidence confirming to South Africans what we suspected all along".

Abrie said Cope decided to turn down National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu's courtesy of inviting them to take part in an ad-hoc committee that will process Madonsela's report.

"Cope is of the opinion that the implementation of this chapter nine institution's remedial action should not be circumvented by any institution, including Parliament.

"The public protector's order is that Zuma must pay for the non-security upgrades at his private dwelling which include the visitors' centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a culvert, a chicken run and extensive paving," said Abrie.

He said the sequence was not logical and Zuma should first comply with the findings and the order, which cannot be equal to or being override by the Special Investigative Unit's investigation.

"By participating in an ad-hoc committee, which will certainly be packed with a majority of President Zuma's most loyal batsmen, a dangerous precedent will be created to which the Congress of the People cannot be party to.

"At this time, our participation in a committee of this nature would be tantamount to assisting President Zuma avoiding his responsibility to uphold the Constitution," said Abrie.

He said they remain resolute that Zuma's conduct was not dissimilar to that of a person who came in possession of stolen goods, but refuse to return them to the rightful owners, the taxpayer.

Other political parties represented in Parliament, including the ruling ANC, have welcomed the establishment of the ad hoc committee.

Parliament had not responded on whether Cope's seat in the committee would be deferred to another party at the time of publishing.

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