Numerous appeals from the Inkatha Freedom Party, African Christian Democratic Party, Freedom Front Plus, Democratic Alliance and Agang MPs to allow Madonsela to defend herself and her report against police minister Nathi Nhleko, have failed.
Their appeals met an unmoving ANC majority at the Nkandla Ad Hoc committee meeting on Thursday, which felt that calling her in would be waste of time as she was not a security expert and “would have nothing to add”.
After three hours of debate and challenges on Thursday evening, a formal proposal to call Madonsela was put forward by IFP MP Narend Singh, with seven votes against and four in favour of the motion. FF Plus MP Corne Mulder proposed the committee call the Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya, former ministers, quantity surveyors among others to appear before the committee. The motion failed.
Defending the party’s refusal to call Madonsela, ANC deputy chief whip Dorris Dlakude said their role was to deal with Nhleko’s report. “We are not here reviewing or question anything. Here, we are talking about what we saw at Nkandla and what was presented to us by the Minister of Police and Public Works Minister. So as Parliament, we have a responsibility to come up with our own report, and that does not mean that we must agree with all the reports that are there. To come up with our own conclusions on what we found at Nkandla.”
While ANC MPs were adamant that there was no need for the public protector to appear before the committee, opposition party MPs tried and failed to convince them to change their minds, with Singh even suggesting a closed meeting with Madonsela, where the public and the media would not be allowed.
ACDP MP Steve Swart said they felt it was important to hear from the public protector because of the status of her report, which had found that President Jacob Zuma was liable for some of the money spent on his Nkandla homestead.
“Also, following our visit to the president’s homestead, for her to give clarity on how she reached some of her conclusions relating to swimming pool, visitors’ centre and amphitheatre. We felt it would be helpful for her to explain her binding recommendation,” Swart said.
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said the issue will suffer and not be put to bed, while Agang MP Andries Tlouamma felt that not calling the public protector would lead to more committees being established to deal with Nkandla.
Opposition party MPs felt calling the public protector to appear before the committee would give it credibility, while the ANC felt she had nothing to add and did not have to defend herself because they were challenging findings in her report and not her personally. With the failure of the bid to call more witnesses, the committee will now draft a report of their observations so far and meet to deliberate on them next week.