Sisulu 'compelled' to face Scopa

2010-04-23 16:02

Cape Town - Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu got her facts wrong when she said she could not be forced to appear before Parliament's watchdog committee on public accounts, Scopa, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.

DA MP David Maynier said Section 56 (a) of the Constitution stated clearly that any committee of the National Assembly "may summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath".

"Sisulu is on flimsy constitutional ground in deciding to absent herself from the proceedings of Scopa."

"The minister now runs the risk of being summoned to appear before Scopa. However, this is a very drastic step and we would urge the minister to appear voluntarily before Scopa," Maynier said.

'Unparliamentary manner'

Sisulu on Thursday said she had decided, with the blessing of the ANC chief whip and study groups, not to appear before Scopa because she was offended at the "very unparliamentary" manner in which she was criticised for failing on three occasions this year to meet with the committee.

The minister added that there was a misconception that ministers could be "summoned" to appear before Parliamentary committees.

"You are invited to attend. There is only one committee that has the power to summon and that is the joint standing committee on intelligence," she said.

Tensions between Sisulu and Scopa have risen steadily in recent months amid repeated, failed attempts to arrange a time for the minister to brief MPs on her department's efforts to improve its accounting after consistently receiving qualified audits for a decade.