25 August 2014

South Africa: ANC Names Heavyweights to Nkandla Committee

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

Parliament — The ANC has nominated senior parliamentary members to the ad hoc committee that will deliberate on President Jacob Zuma's response to investigations into public spending at his Nkandla home.

The ruling party said on Monday it had proposed Cedric Frolick as the committee chairman, and ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude and the chairmen of the justice and police portfolio committees, Mathole Motshekga and Francois Beukman as members.

The African National Congress's other two permanent members of the committee are Mmamoloko Kubayi and Beatrice Ngcobo, who respectively chair the telecommunications and tourism portfolio committees.

Lindiwe Maseko, the ruling party's whip for science and technology, was named as an alternate member to stand in should any of the others be absent.

Frolick is the legislature's House chairman for oversight and committees and chaired the short-lived committee established to look into the Nkandla controversy in the dying days of the fourth Parliament.

Under his leadership, it decided that it lacked time to deal with the matter before the May elections and deferred it to the next Parliament.

Last week, the Democratic Alliance nominated its parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane and chairman of its federal executive James Selfe to serve on the committee.

The committee has been expected to see a tug of war between them and ruling party members over the scope of its deliberations, and the figures it invites to appear before it.

After the ANC went on the offensive at the weekend over Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's letter to Zuma, in which she warned that his response to her report on Nkandla was lacking, the battle is looking more heated still.

On Sunday, Maimane said the DA would use the first sitting of the committee to move that Madonsela be called before the committee and to submit a copy of the letter she sent the president last week.

The ANC has accused Madonsela of overreaching herself and failing to respect the powers of Parliament by demanding that he respond fully to her findings on Nkandla within a fortnight.

It said she was trying to overshadow the committee's work and pre-empt its outcome.

In her report on the controversy, released in March and titled "Secure in Comfort", she held that Zuma had unduly benefited from improvements worth R246 million at Nkandla. She ordered that he repay the state for those that did not relate to security.

At the time, she also gave the president two weeks to respond.

He delayed his response to August 14, and in it made clear that he was not commenting on Madonsela's report or accepting its findings. Instead, he deferred a decision on whether he should repay any money to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.

The DA has indicated it believes the president should appear before the committee to explain his position, but the ANC majority is expected to resist such a move.

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