5 questions the Nkandla committee battled with on Day 1

2014-04-24 16:02

Parliament’s ad hoc committee to consider the Public Protector’s report on the security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home met for the first time today.

These were the issues that emerged:

1. Should the African Christian Democratic Party’s Steve Swart be allowed to take the seat allocated to Cope after the party refused to take it up?

The opposition said yes, the rules of Parliament demand it and it would not make a difference to the ANC’s majority of seven out of 12 members on the committee.

The ANC said Cope had not formally informed the committee that it would not be taking up its seat.

Committee chairperson ANC MP Cedric Frolick said he would consider it. Cope spokesperson Johann Abrie tweeted that the seat should be left vacant.

2. When should the committee meet?

According to the committee programme, it would only meet again on Monday afternoon, and then on Tuesday morning at 10am.

ANC members said this is good because it would give them time for electioneering and to read the report, and would leave enough time for the committee to do its work.

Opposition members said the committee should start its work tomorrow (Friday) and work through the weekend.

Frolick ruled the committee would meet from Monday onwards with extended hours.

3. Should the committee meet over the weekend and all day Monday?

Frolick said MPs have the right to be part of Freedom Day celebrations.

Opposition MPs said the committee could adjourn for a few hours on Monday to allow MPs to attend the unveiling of a bust of former president Nelson Mandela.

The meeting time for the committee was moved from 2pm, as originally scheduled, to 12pm.

4. What should the committee do?

Opposition MPs said the terms of reference meant the committee should not only consider Zuma’s response to Madonsela’s report, but also the report itself, which was tabled in Parliament, and Zuma’s submissions to the Public Protector.

Frolick said he would get legal advice about this, and make a determination by Monday. He said it was important for the committee to also make recommendations.

5. Is overnight enough time for committee members to read the reports?

Opposition MPs like the DA’s Wilmot James said legislators should be able to read fast and could read the reports overnight.

The ANC’s Cecil Burgess said his party’s MPs only heard on Tuesday that they would serve on the committee and, for his own reasons, he hadn’t read the report as yet.

He said he would be lying if he said he could read Madonsela’s 450-page report overnight.

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