19 August 2014

South Africa: Nkandla Now Up to Parliament - Madonsela

Photo: G Stolley/SAPA
President Jacob Zuma's residence in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal (file photo).

Parliament — It is now up to Parliament to weigh President Jacob Zuma's response to the findings on public spending on his private Nkandla home, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Tuesday.

Her remark came as the ANC proposed, as expected, that an ad hoc parliamentary committee be set up to mull the matter.

"The next part actually is for Parliament to evaluate, not me," Madonsela told Sapa on the sidelines of a justice portfolio committee meeting in the legislature.

However, she reiterated that the letter Zuma sent to Parliament last week made plain that he was refraining from comment on her report on the R246 million improvements at his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal.

In her report, titled "Secure in Comfort" Madonsela found Zuma had benefited unduly and should repay a portion of the state money spent.

"If he is not commenting, the status remains unresolved. To the extent that there is no comment in there, we don't know what happens to the findings.

"It is a document that leaves issues open and we don't know now," Madonsela added, trailing off.

Tuesday's parliamentary order paper reflected an ANC draft resolution calling for the establishment of an ad hoc committee to consider the president's reply to investigations by Madonsela, the Special Investigating Unit, and the security cluster task team into the Nkandla controversy.

Madonsela declined to say whether she was satisfied with Zuma's correspondence, saying: "It is not for me to be satisfied, really it is not my place."

She added that she saw her role, as a "quasi-judicial body", as being to assist the president and Parliament, whom she said acted respectively as the custodian and the executor of the Executive Members' Ethics Act.

In April, Zuma declined to respond in full to Madonsela's report within the requisite fortnight.

In her report Madonsela found explicitly that he had violated the Executive Ethics Code by failing to act in a manner that protects state resources, and that this was inconsistent with his position.

Zuma's eventual blanket response last week to the three investigations cautioned that it should not be read as a "critique" of their findings, but that his decision not to comment on them "is not reflective of the fact that I am accepting of the same".

Madonsela summed this up by saying, "he did not confirm or deny".

Zuma deflected a decision on whether he should repay any of the money spent at Nkandla to Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, instructing him to report to Cabinet on the matter.

Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said the ad hoc committee was doomed to fail to deal with the matter properly because of the narrow terms of reference set by the ruling party.

"The resolution quite specifically refers the committee to only consider the president's reply," he said.

"This reply was completely inadequate. It failed to provide a comprehensive response to the public protector's report, nor provided detailed steps on how the president intended to act on her recommendations.

"As such, this committee is predestined to fail. It will be limited to only consider what the president has said, and not what the public protector has recommended," Maimane said.

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