Barely a minute after the first sitting of the National Assembly for this term got underway, the Economic Freedom Fighters’ question on Nkandla payback threatened to disrupt proceedings in Parliament again today.
Delaying Jacob Zuma’s address on xenophobia by almost an hour, the EFF tested Speaker Baleka Mbete’s patience from the start this afternoon, calling for the session to start with questions on when the president would pay back a portion of the R246-million spent on his Nkandla homestead.
With EFF leader Julius Malema, chief whip Floyd Shivambu and spokesperson Mbuyiseli Ndlozi on their feet and fighting for the question to be included, with support from United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, it took a vote from the MP’s to get the business of the day underway.
The president was in the National Assembly today to respond to questions remaining from August 21 last year, when the session was cut short after EFF members disrupted the proceedings and called for the Zuma to pay back the Nkandla money.
The three questions were on the latest developments in finalising the formal recognition of Khoi and San leaders, pending presidential pardons as well as his delegation for the recent inaugural US-Africa Leaders’ Summit.
Answering a supplementary question from African National Congress MP Helen Malgas on what progress has been made on the traditional affairs bill, Zuma said the bill will now be known as the traditional Khoi and San leadership and governance bill.
“The bill addresses the limitations of the existing legislation and provides uniformity in respect of traditional leadership matters. It makes provision for the statutory recognition of Khoi and San communities and leaders, provided that they meet the criteria for recognition. This is the first time ever in the history of our country that provision is made in legislation for the official recognition of Khoi and San people”, he said.
On pending presidential pardons in terms of the Special Dispensation Process, Zuma reiterated what he had said in his written reply to the question, and said they were still being processed as they could not just stamp every recommendation made.
“We subject those recommendations to processes so that at the end when we take the final decision, we are satisfied that we have looked at all avenues.”