Jacob Zuma will not answer August questions

2015-02-26 19:06

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President Jacob Zuma will only respond to six questions in the National Assembly next month, Parliament said, prompting a demand from the Democratic Alliance for an additional session.

DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen today said he was told at the National Assembly programming committee that “at the presidency’s behest” the March 11 session would not deal with questions that Zuma failed to answer in the chaotic sitting of August 21.

Speaker Baleka Mbete adjourned that sitting after the Economic Freedom Fighters chanted “pay back the money” at Zuma when he was posed a question on the Nkandla controversy, leaving three questions unanswered.

The presidency, in response to Steenhuisen today, said Zuma had responded to the unanswered questions in writing.

“The outstanding August 21 2014 questions were responded to as written replies on February 10 2015 for the benefit of the Members of Parliament who had asked the questions,” spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

“The presidency issued the replies to the media and the public on the same day.”

Steenhuisen said the DA was demanding that Mbete secure confirmation from the presidency before March 11 that Zuma will appear on another date to deal with the remaining questions.

He charged that the Speaker had forsaken her duty to the legislature by failing to force the president to respond to more than the standard six questions on this occasion.

“The fact that the presidency is now dictating Parliament’s programme, and the Speaker has to plead with it for dates, is simply absurd and a complete dereliction of duty on her part,” he said.

He added: “In the meantime I will write to both the Speaker and leader of government business, (Deputy President) Cyril Ramaphosa, and request a full breakdown of the exchanges that have taken place between the presidency and Parliament on this issue in order to determine the reasons behind their decision.

“This abbreviated questions session has simply provided the president with another opportunity to escape accountability.”

But parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs said Zuma had responded in writing to the three questions he could not answer in August because the sitting was disrupted.

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