'Nkandla judgment a wake up call for Parliament'

Cape Town – The Nkandla judgment was a major wake up call for Parliament, Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman said on Friday.

Hoffman was urging Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee to support his proposal for the establishment of an integrity commission to help root out corruption.

"It is major wake up call for Parliament because it has really reminded the public, and Parliament, that Parliament is not a rubberstamp of the executive. That parliamentarians are not just there to do what their parties tell them to do," he said.

The Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma had failed to uphold and defend the Constitution regarding the implementation of the remedial actions called for by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela over non-security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

Hoffman said the Nkandla judgment showed that Parliament should be more of a self-starter and an originator than a processor of legislation.

"That is why we are here today."

Presenting to the committee, Hoffman asked that the integrity commission have the security of tenure of office.

This would be achieved by it being classified as a Chapter 9 institution, which could not be closed down without a two-thirds majority vote.

He made an example of the crime fighting unit, the Scorpions, which were shut down 2009.

He said the integrity commission could not be a legislated anti-corruption entity because "a legislated stand-alone entity could be closed down".

MPs questioned whether this commission would not be a duplication of the work of the public protector’s office.

He told the committee that the integrity commission would look at corruption in general, and not maladministration within the state, which was the mandate of the public protector.

Hoffman also called for more funding for the public protector’s office, noting that her current budget was the equivalent of what was spent on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home.

He also questioned the integrity of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation.

"The difficulty with the Hawks is they are part of the police and cannot be independent."

ANC MP Francois Beukman said they were looking at making the Hawks a separate budget vote, which would move them from being under the SAPS.

The current leadership of the Hawks was the problem, Hoffman countered.

Hoffman’s presentation was one of four to be considered by the Constitution Committee on Friday.

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