Opposition MPs want Thuli’s report in Nkandla review

NKANDLA AD HOC COMMITTEE

What was meant to be a simple motion for the formation of the Nkandla ad hoc committee on Tuesday turned into more than an hour of heckling, declarations, divisions and voting as opposition parties fought for public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report to be included in the terms of reference for the committee.

This after the Democratic Alliance proposed an amendment to the ruling party’s motion, which called for the establishment of the ad hoc committee to consider police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s report on Nkandla, which found that the president did not have to pay back a cent for the security upgrades to his KwaZulu-Natal homestead.

The DA’s proposed amendment to the motion was to include the report by the public protector entitled “Secure in Comfort” in the terms of reference of the Nkandla ad hoc committee.

The amendment also stipulated that the committee call President Jacob Zuma, Madonsela and the police minister to appear before the committee.


With the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and the African Christian Democratic Party calling for the ANC to agree to the amendment, and DA MPs shouting that Nhleko’s report was a shameful whitewash, the parties lost the battle after declaring their reasons why they felt the police minister’s report should not be the only one covered.

FF+’s Corné Mulder said the motion was unacceptable as it stood.

“I’m just saying to the ruling party, ‘think’. Because in the end you will all look like fools protecting the president instead of doing what is the right thing to do.”

The motion for the establishment of the Nkandla ad hoc committee was passed after opposition parties lost the bid to include the public protector’s report by 88 votes, and the original motion was carried with 103 members voting against and 192 voting for it.

Last year, opposition parties walked out of another Nkandla ad hoc committee after they said their views were not considered. That committee later cleared the president of any wrongdoing.

The new ad hoc committee will comprise of 14 voting members, eight from the ANC, three from the DA, one EFF member and two members from other parties.

It will also have 16 non-voting members, of which five will be from the ANC, two from the DA, one EFF and with eight designated by the rest of the other parties.

PARLIAMENT BUDGET VOTE

The Economic Freedom Fighters took their SARS case victory dance to the legislature podium during Parliament’s budget vote on Tuesday, while official opposition Democratic Alliance used the time to get their own back at President Jacob Zuma for his “Nkaaandla” mocking comments last week.

Calling the EFF leader the future president of the country, party chief whip Floyd Shivambu said Sars had wanted to use the insolvency act, to sequestrate him and make sure he is taken off Parliament.

“And the court excellently demonstrated to them that there is not necessity to use the insolvency act, because once you use it, and sequestrate a member of Parliament, a credible leader, and future president of this country, they are going to make him incapable of occupying office.

“They wanted to make sure the commander in chief of the EFF is no longer a member of Parliament. They wanted to prevent him from coming here to Parliament to speak on behalf of the workers.

“They wanted to prevent him from coming here to hold the executive accountable. To say to the president of the ANC that he must pay back the money. They wanted to prevent him from saying the obvious, that the ANC government killed and massacred workers in Marikana.”  

Condemning the president’s mockery of opposition parties during last week’s presidency budget vote, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said barely a week ago, the President stood at this very podium sneering, “Nkaaaandla, Nkaaaandla, Nkaaaandla”.

“While this did however make a change from his usual refrain of ‘angazi’ ‘angazi’ ‘angazi’ it did nothing but undermine his credibility and authority. The president criticised Members of this Parliament for not being able to pronounce certain words correctly, well here’s some President Zuma struggles to even say, let alone pronounce: Accountability, Transparency, Responsibility, Ethics, I am guilty, Here’s is the money I am paying back to the South African people.”

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani, constantly referring to former President Nelson Mandela in his address, said the ruling party has been consistent in prioritising the vulnerable in the society.

With the Democratic Alliance MPs getting louder through his speech as he made examples of opposition parties going to the court to reverse decision made in the House, Sizani said their idea of being in opposition was exhibiting anti- government behaviour, which was not a problem, but how it choose to do this though, was a problem.

“The reliance on the courts to contest critical issues in this Legislature is undoubtedly as a result of a lack of or absence of the ideological need to engage with content and substance. But if one has to question why would opposition parties seek refuge at the courts instead of engaging and providing convincing arguments, one could say it is because they suffer from a poverty of ideas, if you will.

“In many established democracies, mechanisms exist to allow for interaction between the respective arms of government to avoid judicial encroachment in the internal arrangements of Parliament. Should the trend of scrutiny of internal processes of Parliament by the Judiciary continue, it could in future present a serious constitutional crisis.”

He lost his cool when DA MPs kept heckling through his speech, calling on them to engage politically and to respect the person they are differing with.

Speaker Baleka Mbete said this Parliament was an embodiment of what is possible when a nation decides to unite and choose a future of hope and progress.

“Our vision for the 5th Parliament is that of “An activist and responsive people’s Parliament that improves the quality of life of our people and ensures enduring equality in our society”.

In providing orientation for our work in the 5th Parliament and along the development path of the NDP, we have been influenced, amongst others, by the injunctions of the Constitution, the quest for Parliament to serve the people by supporting the Members and the desire to fulfil the needs of our people.”

Chairperson Cedric Flolick said the budget for the catering for committees needed to be reduced as it had become excessive, and more committee rooms were needed as the cost of conducting meetings outside was too high.

The Freedom Front Plus’ Corné Mulder said Parliament, which he said did not belong to the ANC, had failed the test of accountability.

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