Baleka Mbete given Nkandla deadline

2014-06-10 08:51

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The DA issued a new appeal to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to appoint an ad hoc committee to assess President Jacob Zuma’s response to the Public Protector’s report on upgrades to his private homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

In a letter, DA MP James Selfe yesterday said Mbete was correct to point out in her response to his first request that the ad hoc committee established by the previous Parliament could not be re-established.

However, Selfe maintained that he believed that Mbete was authorised to convene a new ad hoc committee, and that this could be done without first obtaining a resolution from the National Assembly.

Mbete and Selfe are at loggerheads over whether Parliament is technically currently in adjournment or not, which determines whether Mbete can use her power to appoint an ad hoc committee or not.

In his new letter, Selfe argued that Parliament had been in “adjournment” for more than 14 days since May 21 2014 – the day that new MPs were sworn into the fifth Parliament. This empowered Mbete to appoint a committee in consultation with senior whips and without putting it to the vote in the National Assembly.

He requested that Mbete act by 5pm tomorrow.

But Mbete has already argued in her first response that in terms of the rules governing Parliament, she was not empowered to convene an ad hoc committee.

“It would therefore be for the National Assembly of the fifth Parliament, and not the Speaker, to take any decision on how the matter should be dealt with,” she wrote.

The previous speaker, Max Sisulu, established an ad hoc committee during a parliamentary recess of the fourth Parliament. However, the committee dissolved without having time to investigate Zuma’s response.

Zuma said he would respond fully to the Public Protector’s findings only after the outcome of a report by the Special Investigating Unit on spending at Nkandla. This is yet to be released.

» This story was updated after first published.

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