/ 8 April 2014

DA, FF+ say Sisulu to investigate Nkandla before elections – reports

Da, Ff+ Say Sisulu To Investigate Nkandla Before Elections Reports

National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu has decided to investigate the Nkandla report before the May 7 elections, Beeld newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Sisulu decided to set up a multiparty parliamentary committee to consider public protector Thuli Madonsela's report "Secure in Comfort" about security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, paid for with state funds.

Beeld quoted Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip Watty Watson and Freedom Front Plus chief whip Corne Mulder, who both confirmed that Sisulu would appoint an ad hoc committee.

"The speaker phoned me and told me he planned to set up an ad hoc committee and that he wanted to consult," said Mulder. "The speaker said the ad hoc committee would have to work morning, noon and night up to the elections on May 7 to get the work done in time … He [Sisulu] said he wanted to complete it before May 6. That means the committee should present a report before then and then the National Assembly should be called upon to consider the report."

According to parliamentary rules, the speaker needed to consult with political parties before setting up such a committee.

Seven requests
In her report, Madonsela found that Zuma and his family improperly benefited from the R246-million security upgrades, which included a swimming pool, a cattle kraal and an amphitheatre. Madonsela also found that Zuma breached the Executive Members' Ethics Act. She recommended that a percentage of the money be repaid.

" … The amount in question should be based on the cost of the installation of some or all the items that can't conscionably be accepted as security measures. These included the visitor's centre, cattle kraal and chicken run, swimming pool and amphitheatre … The president and his legal advisors did not dispute this during the investigation."

Madonsela received seven requests to investigate Nkandla in 2011 and 2012. She was later asked to investigate whether Zuma lied to Parliament in 2012 when he said that his family had paid for the construction of Nkandla.

Zuma, in his response to the report, said last week he would await a Special Investigating Unit report on the matter before giving full and proper consideration to the matter.

The presidency said the report on upgrades would be used as an added tool to address claims of maladministration.

"In this context, the public protector's report will be an additional tool, which will fall under the consideration of President Zuma in addressing allegations of maladministration."

The presidency said Zuma "has consistently been concerned about the allegations of impropriety around procurement in the Nkandla project".

Sisulu's office told Beeld that a statement would be released once a decision on the committee had been taken. – Additional reporting by Staff Reporter