U-turn on Nkandla?

2014-05-28 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The chairperson of the committee that appointed Public Protector (PP) advocate Thuli Madonsela will now play a key role in deciding the future of her Nkandla report.

Advocate Mike Masutha, the new minister of Justice and Correctional Services, was involved with Madonsela’s appointment in 2009 and studied with her at Wits.

Masutha told sister paper Beeld yesterday he and Madonsela were “personal acquaintances”.

Masutha is one of four ministers in the security cluster who will soon have to decide what to do with the PP’s report on Nkandla.

In a surprising step, Masutha yesterday distanced the security grouping from the report and said it should be handled in Parliament.

This is a drastic departure from the stance taken by his predecessor, Jeff Radebe, who as chair of the security cluster spearheaded the decision to take the report for judicial review.

Ministers in the security cluster and the minister of Public Works had earlier this month announced they would apply to the court to have Madonsela’s report reviewed.

With three of these four security ministers now moved to other portfolios, the new ministers will soon meet to decide if they will continue with their predecessors’ decision to go to court.

Masutha said “it is for Parliament to decide how to handle the case going forward”. He said Parliament would be the “ideal forum” to handle the matter, as the PP was accountable to Parliament in terms of the Constitution.

He said the security cluster had a secondary role in the future of the report, and would want to add value to the process — by making a submission, for example.

But at the end Parliament had to decide whether to resurrect the case or the ad hoc committee.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said no court papers had been served on the PP.

“It is only fair to give the new ministers time. They are new and had not yet met to take a decision.”

The security cluster will appoint a chairperson at its first meeting and Williams was sure Nkandla would be one of the items on the agenda.

Madonsela’s office said both the departments of Public Works and Defence had submitted their plans to implement remediating actions as she had stipulated in her Nkandla report. The PP and the departments did not want to disclose the contents of these plans.

National police commissioner General Riah Phiyega had missed the May 1 deadline and had to date not submitted her remedial action plans.

Phiyega’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

The PP said she would write to Phiyega to seek an explanation.

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