President Jacob Zuma seems to be getting off the hook as regards the Nkandla Saga. This emerged recently when the members of the committee that was set up to look into the president’s response to the Thuli Madonsela’s report met in parliament.
Early in March, Thuli Madonsela, the Public Protector, released her report into the conduct of the president in the upgrading of his Nkandla home in KwaZulu Natal. According to Madonsela, the president and his family ‘improperly benefitted’ from the upgrades that were made to this homestead. Thuli found that some additions that were made to the homestead were not per se security upgrades and these included a swimming pool and chicken run. She recommended that the president should repay a portion of the R246 million rand . The president’s response, when it came, was to set up this committee. Dubbed the Nkandla Committee, this parliamentary ad hoc committee had been mandated to provide a report by 30 April, 2014.
The first stumbling block was the way the ANC responded to the setting up of the committee. Instead of submitting names of those who would be joining the committee, the ruling party dilly dallied and only announced its deployees to the committee thirteen days after the committee was set up and less than a week before it had to produce its findings.
Having met early this week, what came out in the meeting was that the ANC delegates were not ready as they ‘had not read the voluminous report. They added that they had not known that they would be part of the committee. ANC MP Manamela added that they had also been busy with elections as this is an election period. He also added that as the ANC, they did not feel that the time that had been allocated by the speaker was enough given that as a party they had not gone over all the documents completely.
In response, Corne Mulder argued that electioneering was irrelevant to the process of the committee, adding that nothing around the table should be about elections. The committee was about the integrity of parliament, the Constitution and in particular, about the chapter nine institutions. Adding his voice to this concern, the DA leader in parliament, Lindiwe Mazibuko contested the fact that the MPs had not had time to read the Public Protector’s report was far from the truth given that the president’s response, which included Madonsela’s response, had been published on 9 April.