24 April 2014

South Africa: Committee Meets for First Time to Discuss Public Protector Report

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The Ad Hoc Committee set up to consider submissions by President Jacob Zuma in response to the Public Protector's (PP) report regarding security upgrades to his private residence met for the first time today and elected Mr Cedric Frolick as its Chairperson.

The multiparty Ad Hoc Committee was also due to adopt a draft agenda with timeframes for Committee meetings, but after a lengthy discussion decided to adopt the agenda at its next meeting on Monday, 28 April.

Committee Member Dr Corné Mulder also made a proposal for a second member from the smaller political parties to be accepted to serve on the Committee in the place of the Congress of the People (Cope), which had indicated that it would not be participating. He suggested that Mr Steve Swart take up the vacant position. This view was supported by Committee Member Mr James Selfe.

However, another Member, Mr Buti Manamela, felt the allocation of parties to serve on Committees should be a separate process, as it is proportional. "It is not automatic that, if Cope is not available, this space must go to one of the smaller parties or Mr Swart."

Committee Member Mr Narend Singh indicated that the prerogative lay with the Chairperson of the Committee to elect or assign another Member to the position.

Ms Lindiwe Mazibuko, who also serves on the Committee, felt that meetings should start tomorrow, Friday, 25 April, as she felt the Committee would have insufficient time to complete its work.

Another Committee Member, Mr Cecil Burgess, said he had only been informed this week that he would be serving on the Committee and had therefore had insufficient time to study the PP's lengthy report. He would be unable to do justice to the report overnight, he said. Committee Member Ms Dorries Dlakude supported his request to read the documents over the weekend and to reconvene on Monday.

Some Committee Members felt that President Jacob Zuma and the PP Ms Thuli Madonsela should appear before the Committee.

Mr Frolick concluded the meeting by saying that he would respond to the inclusion of Mr Swart at the next meeting, where the agenda, any other submissions and timeframes would also be discussed. "Members must remember that we must also come up with recommendations. Parliament has a responsibility and we must ensure that we do a thorough job."

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