‘We will not be bullied by the ANC’

2014-09-26 08:56

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The ANC says President Jacob Zuma could not be held liable for misspending on his Nkandla home, nor made to refund the money, prompting the opposition to threaten to withdraw from the parliamentary committee looking into the controversy.

Opposition parties threw down the gauntlet last night after senior ANC MP Mathole Motshekga told the committee the majority of legal minds agreed with the president’s view that remedies put forward by the public protector were not binding.

“Our view is that remedial action is not binding, it has the status of recommendations,” he said, adding that the country’s courts had not pronounced definitively on the matter.

“Therefore it is for us at the end of this engagement to decide what we do when the balance of evidence points in the other direction,” he added.

This was a clear indication that the ANC majority on the committee would frustrate the opposition’s stated aim of making sure that Zuma complies with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive to pay for luxuries added to his home in KwaZulu-Natal at the taxpayer’s expense.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said the opposition was ready to take the matter to the Constitutional Court because the law did not allow the legislature to review the public protector’s findings.

“If you want to review the public protector’s report, we are going to leave the committee and we will see you in court,” he said.

“We are not going to be bullied by an ANC that does anything to protect President Zuma.”

He was backed by Freedom Front Plus MP Corne Mulder who said he had reluctantly come to agree with the left-wing outfit’s parliamentary tactics because the ANC left the opposition no choice.

“You will even put the Constitution on the altar to protect the president. This is a vital matter. It is going to the Constitutional Court.”

At this point, after nine hours of wrangling, the Democratic Alliance asked for the meeting to be resumed in this morning.

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane asked the ANC to reconsider both its view on the status of Madonsela’s findings, and its refusal to allow the committee to call witnesses, notably Zuma.

The ANC rejected demands from the opposition that the committee should agree on a list of witnesses to summon, and that Zuma should supplement the submissions he made to Madonsela and to the SIU.

“We do not support the point of calling people here,” ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said, adding that Zuma did not have the information the opposition accused him of withholding.

Motshekga agreed that the committee should rather seek answers from public works staff implicated by the SIU’s report.

He added that Zuma was “personally not responsible” for steps taken by directors-general and ministers.

But opposition parties argued this argument was legally flawed, since Madonsela found that Zuma had violated the Executive Ethics Code by failing to act in a manner that protected state resources.

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