Nkandla draft report says Madonsela’s report isn’t binding

2014-10-31 08:28

A draft report by the parliamentary committee on the Nkandla controversy has concluded that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s findings against President Jacob Zuma on misspending on his private home were not binding.

The document, read out to the ANC-only committee yesterday, states: “The remedial action of the Public Protector is not binding.”

It also states that contrary to arguments by the political opposition it was not necessary to call Zuma to answer questions on the “security upgrade” at his home. The upgrade spiralled to a cost of R246 million and has haunted him since he took office.

“There was not a need to call persons mentioned as the investigations extensively and exhaustively extracted information from political office bearers,” it continued.

The draft report accepts damning findings by Madonsela, the Special Investigating Unit and an interministerial team that the project flouted regulations, but lays no blame on Zuma.

It states firmly that “the president did not request the upgrade” at his Nkandla homestead and that the minister of safety and security approved neither the cost nor the design of the project.

This meant, it adds, “that the project was initiated and implemented without the necessary authority and the expenditure could be deemed unauthorised as per the Public Finance Management Act”.

However, it goes on to state that at times the “executive authority strayed too close” to the domain of administrative authorities and accounting officers, leading to allegations that it interfered irregularly.

The report was likely to be adopted by the committee from which opposition parties withdrew in protest last month over the ANC’s attitude towards Madonsela’s report on Nkandla.

They argued that her directive that Zuma repay a portion of the funds spent on his home could only be reviewed by a court of law, and that therefore the ANC and the president’s rejection of it was unconstitutional.

But ANC MPs yesterday said the ruling party’s view had been vindicated by the Western Cape High Court’s ruling in the Hlaudi Motsoeneng case last week.

The court correctly held that reports by the Public Protector were not binding, and therefore put paid to the opposition’s campaign calling on Zuma to “pay back the money” – in the catch phrase of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said ANC veteran Mathole Motshekga.

“That court has actively come to our assistance by finding that the remedial action of the Public Protector is not binding and enforceable,” he said.

Pre-empting claims that the committee lacked legitimacy because it consisted only of ruling party members, Motshekga said these would be “outrageous” and called on the opposition to return to it.

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