Mbete rejects DA’s Nkandla call
Pietermaritzburg - The new Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has rejected a
formal request by the Democratic Alliance to re-establish an ad hoc
committee to look into President Jacob Zuma’s response to the public
protector’s report on Nkandla.
Mbete responded by saying that she was not
authorised to act on the request.
In a letter to DA MP James Selfe, she
said that it was up to the “National Assembly of the Fifth Parliament,
and not the Speaker, to take any decision on how the matter should be
She said further that the report of the ad hoc committee had lapsed and the committee had “ceased to exist”.
Selfe had sent a letter of request to Mbete the same day that she was
elected Speaker on 21 May.
He set a deadline of 6 June for her to
“re-establish” the committee.
He argued that the ad-hoc committee had been “unable to discharge its
responsibilities prior to the dissolution of Parliament on 6 May 2014”.
Mbete and Selfe have now locked horns on whether the National Assembly is currently in “adjournment” or not.
In terms of the rules, an ad hoc committee may only be established by
resolution of the National Assembly. However, if Parliament is in
“adjournment for a period of 14 days or more”, the Speaker may act in
consultation with senior party whips.
Responding on Friday, Selfe said he believed that the Speaker was
authorised to act.
“I maintain that we were adjourned from 21 May, when
the Chief Justice said that the meeting [of the National Assembly] was
He plans to write back to Mbete on Monday to re-issue his
request. “And if the Speaker doesn’t like the term re-establish, then I
will ask her to establish an ad hoc committee.”
In his response to the public protector’s findings, Zuma said he would
await the outcome of a probe by the Special Investigating Unit.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma and his family had benefited
unduly from the R246m homestead upgrade in KwaZulu-Natal, which
included a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, and an amphitheatre.
Among her recommendations was that he repay a portion of the money.
Meanwhile, the security cluster ministers announced they would seek a
judicial review of the public protector’s report. They considered some
of the findings to be “irrational, contradictory and … informed by
material errors of law”.