Nkandla report a travesty: Maimane

By Drum Digital
13 November 2014

The adoption of the report by the ad hoc committee on Nkandla is a travesty of parliamentary oversight, says DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane.

The adoption of the report by the ad hoc committee on Nkandla is a travesty of parliamentary oversight, DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said on Thursday.

Speaking during a raucous debate on the report in the National Assembly, he told MPs that President Jacob Zuma had forsaken his constitutional duty "and the ANC report has rubber-stamped his sins".

Maimane repeated his party's call on the president to account for the R246 million spent on upgrades to his Nkandla residence, failing which the DA would seek his removal from office.

He said the African National Congress members of the committee had showed no desire to establish the truth of what happened at Nkandla, and had remained "blindly loyal" to their leader.

"It was in the context of this clear desire to exonerate the president and allow him to dodge accountability that the opposition members withdrew from the proceedings."

There were two narratives on what happened at Nkandla. The ANC's version was set out in the report of the ad hoc committee.

"It's a narrative that describes how the cost of a legitimate security upgrade to the president's residence escalated due to maladministration by public officials and the principal agent of this project, Mr Minenhle Makhanya."

This version made no distinction between security and non-security upgrades, and viewed the escalation of the costs as an unremarkable system failure.

"More importantly, in this narrative, the president neither requested the upgrades, nor had any knowledge of their extent."

Maimane then employed some heavy irony.

"He [Zuma] was merely an unassuming, hapless recipient of a generous gift from the people of South Africa... The president was an unwilling victim, who arrived home to find 'my pool had been extended', that there's lavish expenses, at no cost to himself.

"He did not even question this generosity, but he felt, no, he's obliged to accept it, no questions asked," he said, to laughter from opposition benches.

It was very clear to every South African why this version was "absolute nonsense".

However, there was a second narrative.

"In this narrative, President Zuma, together with his personal architect, Mr Makhanya, orchestrated a grand deception to expand the scope of the project while minimising his personal liability.

"And so a swimming pool, cattle kraal, an amphitheatre, a tuck shop, a visitors' centre were added to the list of security upgrades, and the cost absorbed by the people of South Africa."

Maimane said the "condescending and dismissive way" in which Zuma had dealt with queries on Nkandla was unbecoming of his office.

"The president has been party to a deception of the grandest scale. Public money was stolen at Nkandla, and now the president cowers in shame, hiding behind ANC numbers in Parliament."

The money had been destined for service projects.

"Most abhorrently, it was money stolen from the poor of South Africa, who struggle every day to get ahead. This is nothing short of an impeachable offence. President Zuma must account. It is not our request -- it is his constitutional imperative.

"Should the president fail to heed this call, we will be left with no choice but to move for his removal from office," Maimane told the House.

"He must lead by example. He must either comply with the public protector, or we must move to have him impeached. I call on you to protect the poor of this country, and hold President Zuma to account."

-SAPA

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