/ 9 April 2014

Parliament to establish ad hoc Nkandla committee

The speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu has confirmed that Parliament will establish an ad hoc committee to process the Public Protector’s report on the investigation into upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla.

The committee will have to report its findings to Parliament by April 30, seven days before the May 7 general elections. In a statement, Parliament said the committee will consider the submissions made by Zuma in response to public protector Thuli Madonsela's report and make recommendations where applicable.

The 12-member committee will consist of seven ANC MPs, two from the DA, one each from the Congress of the People, Inkatha Freedom Party and another representing the smaller parties.

In terms of the rules of the National Assembly, an ad hoc committee may only be established for the performance of a specific task.

"The ad hoc committee in its functioning will exercise those powers as set out in National Assembly Rule 138 that are necessary in carrying out its task. These include the committee determining its own procedure, frequency and time of its meetings," said Parliament.

Public access
The statement said that once the ad hoc committee has completed its task, it will submit its report. This will be published in the parliamentary papers and on Parliament's website for public access.

Parliament said Sisulu decided to establish the committee in terms of Rule 214 (1) (b) of the National Assembly rules that empowers him to establish an ad hoc committee during parliamentary recess, and after consultation with the chief whip of the majority party and senior whips of other parties in the National Assembly.

Zuma told Sisulu last week that he would give Parliament a "further report" on "decisive executive interventions" on his private Nkandla home after receiving a report from the Special Investigating Unit he had directed to probe security upgrades at Nkandla.

On April 2, Zuma wrote to Sisulu noting that three state agencies – the public protector, the justice, crime prevention and security cluster of Cabinet and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) – had all "inquired into the same subject matter".

"The president has decided that he will give a full and proper consideration to all the matters before him and, upon receipt of the SIU report, will provide Parliament with a further report on the decisive executive interventions that he would consider to be appropriate," said the presidency in a statement.

Delay tactics
Opposition parties immediately accused Zuma of running away from accountability, employing delaying tactics and evading the issue, possibly until after the elections.

A day after Madonsela released her report on Nkandla, DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko tabled a motion to impeach Zuma "for his role in the Nkandla corruption", and asked that Parliament is recalled to consider the president's conduct as a matter of urgency.

On Wednesday, Mazibuko welcomed Sisulu's decision to establish the ad hoc committee, saying they believed this was the first step in the impeachment proceedings against Zuma. "This bold move by the Speaker is a victory for Parliament, the constitution and accountability," she said.

In her report, Madonsela had found that Zuma and his family had unduly benefited from the upgrades at Nkandla. She said the president would have to pay back to the state a portion of the money spent at his Nkandla home on developments that had nothing to do with security.

Madonsela gave Zuma 14 days to write to Parliament and state what remedial action he was going to take, if any, on the Nkandla matter going forward.