Nkandla committee hears calls to summon Zuma

2014-09-09 15:20

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Cape Town - Parliament's ad hoc committee on the Nkandla controversy on Tuesday unanimously named ANC MP Cedric Frolick as its chairperson amid calls from the opposition that it should summon President Jacob Zuma to account for public spending on his private home.

The charge was led by Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane who asked Frolick to confirm that the committee had the power of subpoena and said, if so, that it should at its next meeting agree on whom it would call to appear before it.

"Then perhaps the committee can agree as to who must come and serve before this committee, or is that power not included?" Maimane said.

He was backed up by Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema who said: "You can't talk about the timetable without talking about subpoenaing people because it informs your timetable," Malema said.

Talking to reporters afterwards he was more blunt.

"Zuma must come here, the biggest thug must come to account."

The ANC, and Frolick, were firm however that it was premature to consider calling anybody before it had begun deliberating on several reports on the R246m Nkandla project and Zuma's submission to Parliament last month in response to those.

Former ANC Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga said: "The question of who should be subpoenaed is not something that you sit and draw up like a shopping list. You consider the reports and the reports themselves will indicate the need and you decide on the basis of the need."

The committee has been expected to see a tug of war between the ruling party and the opposition on the subject of calling Zuma, who has come under fire for failing to follow Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendation that he repay a portion of the money spent at Nkandla.

Malema and Maimane, whose parties have heatedly defended Madonsela against slurs from the ANC, said they also wanted her to appear before the committee.

Malema said he particularly wanted to ask her why her report found that the president had not misled Parliament - an impeachable offence - when he denied that state money was spent on his private quarters.

There were clear indications, Malema said, that Zuma had in fact been fully informed on what was happening at Nkandla.

"We think she developed cold feet," he said.

Frolick said on Tuesday the committee should conclude its work by the end of October, meaning it had six weeks to study all reports and formulate a response to a matter that has dogged Zuma for years.

In the opposition's view, Parliament has to enforce Madonsela's finding that Zuma should pay for private comforts, including a swimming pool, that were included in a project billed as a security upgrade to the head of state's home.

But in his submission to the legislature, the president deferred a decision about whether he was liable for any repayment to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.

Malema said this was unacceptable to the EFF, which embarrassed Zuma last month when it chanted "pay back the money" at him in the National Assembly.

"The police minister has got no role to play," he said.

The opposition has feared that Madonsela's report would be downplayed in the committee's deliberations, and won assurances from the ANC last week that it would be included in its terms of reference.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  julius malema  |  mmusi maimane  |  nkandla upgrade

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