UDM also pulls out of secret briefing on Nkandla

2015-03-24 00:00

THE United Democratic Movement has pulled out of a parliamentary process regarding Nkandla security upgrades, which its leader Bantu Holomisa has described as flawed.

Holomisa has accused Speaker Baleka Mbete of not sticking to parliamentary resolutions. “The UDM would like to excuse itself from the course you are about to embark on,” he says in a letter to the speaker yesterday.

He said he had withdrawn after failing to get a response to a letter he sent last week raising concerns about the process being followed ahead of the release of the long-awaited report by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on Nkandla non-security upgrades. In the earlier letter, Holomisa accused the speaker of trying to seek agreement from opposition parties to “clean” the report by removing sensitive areas before it was presented to the National Assembly.

He said in terms of the resolution of the ad-hoc committee on Nkandla, it was also up to Cabinet to report back to Parliament, “not any other forum or committee”.

The speaker has denied that she was trying to “censor” the report or ­“co-opt” party leaders before it was presented to Parliament.

The row erupted following meetings held between the speaker and ­parliamentary leaders last week. In a statement, the speaker said the ­meetings were an attempt to “tap into the collective wisdom of political leaders in exploring options for processing the report within Parliament”.

“It is the speaker’s view that it should be possible to talk to party leaders regarding matters pertaining to ­parliamentary business. These interactions are never meant to replace parliamentary process as prescribed in the rules,” said the speaker.

Disagreeing with Holomisa, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said although there were matters that still needed to be cleared up by the speaker, the only way forward after that was for her to reconvene the ad hoc committee on Nkandla. MPs at this committee ­needed to interrogate Nhleko’s findings and methodology regarding president ­Jacob Zuma’s liability for non-security upgrades.

Steenhuisen said that the ad hoc committee would be transparent, and if there was a need for a sensitive aspect of security about Zuma’s home to be kept private, then that would be decided by the ad hoc committee, not the

speaker or anyone else.

“The report cannot be done in an open sitting of Parliament, that would set a bad precedent,” he said.

But the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said there was no need for any further processes. “The committee’s work is done. Everything is done. Nhleko must come to Parliament … and say how much ­Zuma will pay back.”

ANC spokesperson Moloto ­Mothapo said that Holomisa’s claims about the speaker were “astonishing”. All the speaker had done was to take party leaders into her confidence. “She wanted to have a discussion about how best to deal with the report. The talks were vibrant, constructive and frank,” said Mothapo.

Nhleko’s spokesperson Musa Zondi said the minister had not yet been given a date to brief Parliament.

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