/ 26 March 2014

Madonsela has not sent Nkandla report to Parliament

Madonsela Has Not Sent Nkandla Report To Parliament

The office of the public protector has not sent a copy of the Nkandla report to National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu because she has not requested him to take any action, her office said on Wednesday.

Manager for outreach, education and communication at the public protector's office Oupa Segalwe confirmed that the public protector has, at this stage, not sent a copy of the report to Sisulu.

The report was sent to President Jacob Zuma, who in terms of the Executive Members Ethics Act, must act in the event of ethical violations by members of Cabinet, to send it and his explanation to the National Assembly, said Segalwe.

He said the speaker's role would kick in once the president has done what the public protector requested him to do.

Segalwe said following the "difficulty" that Madonsela experienced with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) report, "she was loathe to send the Nkandla report to the speaker without a mutual understanding of the expected process".

"Efforts to meet with the speaker prior to the release of the report did not materialise. The public protector, therefore, wanted to avoid the confusion that arose in the case of the IEC report," he said.

Tied hands
Chief whip of the ANC in the National Assembly Stone Sizani questioned why Madonsela had not submitted the report to the National Assembly, an institution to which she accounts.

He also suggested that Parliament's hands were tied until she submitted the report.

"This is because in terms of the Public Protector Act of 1994, the public protector is accountable to Parliament and therefore his or her reports must be submitted to the institution," he said.

"In terms of the National Assembly Rule 302, the speaker must upon receipt of the report table it without delay to enable all members of the National Assembly to formally have it before them."

Sizani said the rules then prescribe that the speaker must refer the report to an appropriate committee or committee for consideration and report to the House.

"The emphasis should be made here that the tabling of the report does not necessitate a sitting of the House. The House only convenes after the finalisation of the committee process on the report in order to consider the committee's report," said Sizani.

He took a stab at the Democratic Alliance (DA) and at Sisulu, who on Tuesday suggested he was considering appointing an ad hoc committee to deal with the Nkandla report as requested by the DA. He said it was naïve or a flawed comprehension of simple, established procedure and the law for anyone to ask Parliament to simply form a committee to consider impeachment before it could even deal with the report through a thorough parliamentary process.

"It is important to note that at this point [that] the National Assembly has not even received the report," said Sizani.

'That bulky thing'
He said an outcome of a thorough parliamentary deliberation on the public protector's report, must be the one that informs the decision of the institution.

Sizani, although admitting to not having read the Nkandla report, referring to it as "that bulky thing”, said the report mostly echoed the inter-ministerial team's findings of the commission of serious irregularities in the implementation of the project.

Sizani hit out at Madonsela, saying while they were satisfied with her work, they were concerned about some of the utterances she directed at the government and Parliament, "which border on political posturing and condescending language".

These include her "disdainfully referring to the inter-ministerial task team, which investigated the upgrades as a 'little committee of ministers'".

"She has also spoken condescendingly of Parliament, a constitutional institution that she is accountable to, by questioning its independence and making remarks relating to the agenda of the ANC National Executive Committee scheduled for this weekend, saying she would be 'surprised' if the committee did not deliberate on her report.

"All these remarks contain political overtones that are unacceptable coming from the head of an independent chapter nine institution.

"By making such disparaging remarks against the two arms of the state and the internal political processes of a political party, we strongly believe that she has overstepped the mark," said Sizani.

President on course
Meanwhile, presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told the Mail & Guardian that Zuma was on course to submit a report to the National Assembly within the stipulated 14 days.

"It's a routine thing, usual practice of this government, we do it all the time," he said.

"It's not going to happen because the public protector said so, he [Zuma] will do it because it is in the law," said Maharaj.

However, he could not say on which day Zuma will submit the report.

The Public Protector Act states that the public protector shall, at any time, submit a report to the National Assembly on the findings of a particular investigation if "he or she deems it necessary; he or she deems it in the public interest; it requires the urgent attention of, or an intervention, by the National Assembly or when he or she is requested to do so by the Speaker of the National Assembly".

'Committee of officials'
On Wednesday afternoon, Madonsela denied that she referred to the inter-ministerial committee as a "little committee of ministers".

"She said a 'committee of officials'," said Segalwe.

"She stands by her statement that this particular committee's report cannot be compared to a report coming from an independent constitutional body because it was a result of an investigation conducted by a committee of officials appointed by a minister whose department's conduct was in question.

"The committee was not an independent institution nor did it have legal standing," said Segalwe.

Segalwe said Madonsela never questioned the independence of Parliament or suggested that its "powers be clipped" with regard to appointing or removing the president.

He said a correct reading of that comment on the front page of the Sunday Times would show the impeachment process she was referring to was that of a public protector.

"Regarding the alleged comment about the ANC NEC, the correct reading of the same article with show that the quote attributed to the public protector says: "I would be surprised if any political party anywhere in the world, having read this report from A to Z, says this is OK …"