/ 22 July 2015

Parliamentary committee pays a visit to Nkandla

The ANC's NEC says it accepts that Jacob Zuma didn't ask for the security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.
The ANC's NEC says it accepts that Jacob Zuma didn't ask for the security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead.

Parliament’s ad-hoc committee on Nkandla is inspecting the upgrades at the compound in rural KwaZulu-Natal, which cost more than R240-million.

The Economic Freedom Fighters and Cope boycotted the visit.

The media was initially not allowed to accompany the committee. On Tuesday, the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said it was “deeply shocked” at the refusal to grant the media access to the visit.

Sanef wrote to the chairperson of the ad hoc committee, Cedric Frolick, pointing out that there were constitutional provisions that placed a duty on Parliament to make provisions to enable media access to its business.

Sanef said it was told the ad-hoc committee did not have the “legal authority” to decide whether the media could be present at the visit. In a statement, Sanef said: “The issues surrounding the ‘Nkandla matter’ have correctly raised enormous public interest over a lengthy period and the public have a right to know how matters relating to the controversy are being dealt with. Exclusion of the media from the visit to the residence could result in vital information concerning the issues being withheld from the public.

“Sanef believes it is not reasonable and justifiable for the media to be excluded. Sanef thus calls on the chairman and the committee to request the president in the strongest terms for permission for the media to enter the residence with the committee.”

The Office of the ANC Chief Whip in Parliament on Wednesday expressed “disappointment” at the “unfortunate allegations levelled against Parliament” by Sanef .

Moloto Mothapo, ANC spokesperson for the caucus in Parliament, said Sanef’s claims were “without basis, ill-informed and reflects a misunderstanding of the basic functioning of Parliament and the scope of its powers granted to it by the Constitution”.

Mothapo said that while Parliament was constitutionally mandated to conduct its business transparently, this was confined to Parliament and did not extend to the premises of Zuma’s home.

He said Media24 had initially requested access to Nkandla.

” … It is beyond the Speaker’s powers to decide who should access the private family home of the president. Such authority resides elsewhere and definitely not with the speaker or the chairperson of the ad hoc committee,” he said.

Mothapo said Media24’s request was directed at the wrong authority, and said the ANC was pleased that the presidency had granted the media access to some areas at the homestead, “such as the helipad, the clinic and houses for personnel”.

MPs and the media were given a tour of the 21 houses, meant to house SAPS members, which cost R135-million. The three-bedroomed houses are empty and MPs and journalists tweeted pictures of unfinished construction work.

The houses appeared unused:

Zuma was not in attendance