Durban group offers to pay back money on Zuma's behalf

The Nkandla parliamentary committee. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Nkandla parliamentary committee. (David Harrison, M&G)

The controversy in the parliamentary investigation into the multimillion-rand upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu Natal continues, with a group of people offering to pay the amount that was unduly spent from the state’s coffers. 

A group of people from Durban has written to Parliament offering to settle the amount – and calling on Members of Parliament to tell them the amount that Zuma owes.

When the parliamentary ad hoc committee, which is considering the reports from four institutions that investigated the Nkandla project, met on Thursday morning, committee chairperson Cedric Frolick announced that they had received letters from three different bodies. 

A group called the Public Members Unit Team wrote to the committee criticising the manner in which the Nkandla issue has been handled and how it was used to disgrace and humiliate Zuma. 

The group said it wanted to put an end to the matter by offering to pay the money on behalf of Zuma. It called on the opposition parties who want to point fingers regarding the Nkandla upgrades, not to point at Zuma anymore but to the group “since we will be paying that money”. 

“We as members of the public, we are now putting the end to this issue by saying once the Public Protector finalises every report that is needed including that amount of money that they are saying the president should pay back, we as Public Members Unit Team we will pay the money back on behalf of President Zuma,” reads their letter to Parliament. 

“We as members of the public believe that how the whole process was handled, how it was announced to the public, how it was investigated and how it is handled by some members of parliament ... It’s just to disgrace the president of South Africa.” 

Focus on service delivery
The group said it hoped that from now on MPs and ministers would focus on delivering services to the public and that opposition parties would “start looking for something else to use in convincing people to join their parties but not to humiliate our president”. 

The Mail & Guardian could not reach Vumelani Mchunu, who is a signatory in the letter and is the chairperson of the group according to the correspondence. 

Frolick said the letter cannot have any meaningful bearing to the committee, which is dealing with official reports. 

“Parliament has no mandate in terms of what the letter says, we note it but we must move on,” added ANC MP Mmamoloko Kubayi. 

Another group that wrote to the committee is the “concerned lawyers and educationists for the equality before the law”. The group of senior lawyers from KwaZulu-Natal first spoke out early this year, when they  launched a campaign in Johannesburg in April to convince members of the legal fraternity that there are “glaring flaws, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and contradictions” in the public protector’s report on Nkandla. At the time, the 10 lawyers, led by Zuma loyalist Comfort Ngidi, said their campaign was “self-funded”.

They have now taken their message to Parliament in an 18-page document in which they attack public protector Thuli Madonsela saying there is a case of reckless conduct in the manner in which she dealt with the highest office in the land.

The lawyers claim that Madonsela’s conduct may have contributed to the downgrade in ratings by international agencies.

The committee resolved to forward the concerned lawyers’ letter, which calls for Madonsela’s dismissal to National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete, saying it does not have the powers to deal with the matter.

Madonsela’s letter
Madonsela also wrote to the committee offering to address the committee on her Nkandla report. Two weeks ago, ANC MPs rejected the call by opposition parties for the committee to call in witnesses including Madonsela and Zuma to give evidence to the committee.

The ruling party said the information in the four reports that they were considering was enough for them to make informed decisions.

On Thursday, the committee was supposed to look into a draft report of its own progress but Parliament’s content advisors who were tasked with drafting the report asked for a week’s extension to do the work.

The committee, which was mandated to report back to the National Assembly on October 24 resolved to ask for an extension of that deadline.


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