Cabinet has 3 months to decide on Nkandla

2014-11-12 05:15
(File: News24)

(File: News24)

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Cape Town - In its final report, Parliament's ad hoc committee on the Nkandla controversy on Tuesday absolved President Jacob Zuma of wrongdoing and asked him to act against officials who allowed the abuse of state funds to refurbish his homestead.

It also instructed Cabinet to determine which parts of the R246m project that has haunted Zuma since he took office constituted genuine security upgrades.

It said Cabinet must do this within three months and with the help of the state security services, while also looking into the Special Investigating Unit's warning that security at the president's home remained inadequate.

As expected, the committee rejected Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's conclusion that the president was unduly enriched because some of the improvements - which included a swimming pool, cattle kraal and chicken run - did not pertain to security and should refund the state for these.

Instead it accepted a parliamentary legal adviser's view that this finding was "premature" as Madonsela was not a security expert.

The report faults her for checking what was constructed at Zuma's home in rural KwaZulu-Natal against a list of security requirements compiled by the police.

This, it said, was flawed, as according to a Cabinet memorandum from 2003, the requirements should have been determined with input from the State Security Agency.

"The committee recommends that the matter of what constitutes security and non-security be referred back to Cabinet," reads the report, which stresses that Zuma did not request the security upgrade.

It calls on the president to consider whether members of government ignored the Cabinet memorandum and "if necessary take the appropriate action" against them and as well as "members of the executive who did not act according to the prescripts of the Public Finance Management Act".

The 34-page report, which was drafted by ANC MPs after the opposition withdrew in protest, also rejects Madonsela's findings that the president breached the Executive Ethics Code by failing to prevent the waste of state funds.

Findings not binding

It welcomed the Western Cape High Court judgment last month in which Judge Ashton Schippers ruled that findings by the public protector are not binding on persons or organs of state, and committee chairman Cedric Frolick denied opposition charges that the ruling party was effectively reviewing Madonsela's report.

"We did not overturn anything, we arrived at our own conclusions," he said.

"From the view of Parliament, we applied the relevant legislation and the laws... If there is anyone that does have information that the president has acted in a wrongful or corrupt way, then that information must be handed over to the relevant authorities.

"It cannot be expected of Parliament to go and manufacture things that are not in front of us."

The opposition withdrew from the committee in September because of the ruling party's refusal to accept Madonsela's findings as binding and to agree to call witnesses, including Zuma.

The DA and the EFF in March pressed corruption charges against Zuma based on her findings, and following questions from the DA, the police ministry this week said the investigation was being overseen by the country's top detective.

Frolick also rejected suggestions that Parliament was failing to hold the executive to account by leaving it up to Zuma to decide whether action should be taken against officials and ministers, saying it would be inappropriate for the legislature to do so itself.

"Parliament does not appoint the executive, the president does, and they serve at his pleasure and the Cabinet also does their work in a particular way. You must remember that most of the work the Cabinet does is restricted, it is confidential... it is not open for the public to interrogate so the president is the correct person to take appropriate action."

Asked whether the ad hoc committee had unearthed anything new in its deliberations on various agencies' findings on Nkandla, he said: "It is the first time in my 15 to 16 years in Parliament that I have seen a project of this nature can be mismanaged to the extent that has been, completely, completely mismanaged.

"You get the sense that certain people, they took decisions and made rules as they were going along. It raises bigger questions as to what exactly is happening in some of the key government departments."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  cape town  |  parliament 2014  |  nkandla upgrade

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