ANC and IFP shelve Nkandla committee

2014-04-29 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The parliamentary ad hoc committee over Nkandla was yesterday sunk in just four hours by the ANC — and one opposition member.

After a heated debate whether the committee could continue with its task, given the May 6 deadline, the ANC members used their majority vote to force through a motion that the committee would end its job before it even got started.

The ANC’s seven committee members and IFP Chief Whip Narend Singh voted in favour of a motion to refer to the next parliament the committee’s investigation of President Jacob Zuma’s response to the public protector’s Nkandla report.

The members argued there is not enough time for the committee to execute its mandate properly ahead of the May 7 election, adding the presidential response to the public protector’s report was too important to rush through.

Parliamentary rules stipulate that all committees and any unfinished parliamentary business will be shelved at midnight on May 6.

While this business may be taken up by the newly elected parliament, the next set of MPs, who will comprise South Africa’s fifth democratic parliament, are under no obligation to continue with any business left unfinished by their predecessors.

Opposition MPs on the committee were shocked and angry about the procrastination and said it was a sad day for South Africa and Parliament because the ruling party had succeeded in preventing the move to get Zuma to account to the country and Parliament for the R246 million in state funds that had been spent on his private estate at Nkandla.

The committee yesterday issued a statement drawn up by the ANC members and accepted by a majority vote. It states the Nkandla issue must be referred to the next parliament because:

• The term of the fourth parliament expires within days;

• There is not enough time for the committee to finish the work;

• Not all investigations into the matter, including that of the Special Investigating Unit, had been finalised; and

• The issue is of extreme importance and can therefore not be rushed.

The opposition parties issued a minority report in which they ask that:

• The committee’s deadline should be extended to May 6; and

• The public protector, ministers of Police and Defence, the head of the Special Investigations Unit, and Zuma should be called to testify before the committee.

The majority rejected the minority report.

An angry DA MP Dr Wilmot James said the ANC committee members had clearly been ordered by Luthuli House to sink the committee and protect Zuma.

ANC MP Buti Manamela responded, saying if he is being accused of getting his mandate from Luthuli House, then he pleads guilty.

“I am a member of this Parliament because I was on the ANC’s parliamentary list. I am not here to represent my wife or children. I represent the ANC and am not ashamed about it.”

Manamela accused the public protector of taking sides in her investigation of the money spent on Nkandla.

Opposition party members emerged from the committee meeting in a dejected mood, saying the ANC must not think that because they have sunk the committee, the world would now forget about Nkandla.

Spokesperson for the Speaker Luzuko Jacobs could not comment at the time of going to print because he had not yet received the committee’s report.

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