Security cluster’s Nkandla court bid is premature – Thuli Madonsela

2014-05-15 17:55

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The Public Protector has described as premature a plan by the security cluster of ministers to approach a high court for a judicial review of her Nkandla report.

“The architecture of our constitutional democracy as we understand it requires that the matter be debated in Parliament first,” Thuli Madonsela said today.

“Should there be no common understanding, the matter can then be taken to court.”

She said she could not imagine any court finding in the ministers’ favour.

Earlier, acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the ministers were not taking the Public Protector to court. They wanted her report to undergo a judicial review, possibly in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

“I don’t know when this will take place. We will prepare our arguments, which will be given in court.”

The cluster believed Madonsela’s report, titled Secure in Comfort and released in March, lacked clarity in some areas, and that her findings were “irrational, contradictory and ... informed by material errors of law”.

“It is the ministers’ view that the Public Protector’s report and the investigation she conducted trespass on the separation of powers doctrine and ... section 198(d) of the Constitution, which vests national security in Parliament and national executive,” she said.

Read: Nkandla: ‘National security’ basis of security cluster’s court bid

In her report, Madonsela found President Jacob Zuma and his family unduly benefited from a R246 million security upgrade to his private Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, which included a swimming pool, a cattle kraal and an amphitheatre.

She recommended, among other things, that he repay a portion of the money.

Zuma has said he would await the outcome of another probe by the Special Investigating Unit before responding to the matter.

The DA said it was consulting with its lawyers with the view of joining as an intervening party.

“We ... believe that it is part of a greater plan to try and block the reappointment of an ad hoc committee to consider this matter on the grounds of it being sub judice.”

The parliamentary ad hoc committee was the appropriate body to hear arguments should there be inaccuracies in the report.

“This committee will be able to listen to input from the security cluster as well as seek answers to questions which were not fully answered by the report,” the DA said.

The committee, which was set to consider Zuma’s submissions on the Nkandla report, was effectively dissolved on April 28.

A report by the committee referring the matter to the fifth Parliament was adopted, following heated arguments between ANC MPs and their opposition counterparts.

The matter was put to a vote after the ANC proposed the matter stand over for the next Parliament to consider after the May 7 elections.

The ANC used its majority to win the vote.

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