Saturday, April 09, 2016

ANC Caucus Rallies Around Zuma as Opposition Pushes On
Apr 8, 2016
Wyndham Hartley
Business Day Live

Opposition parties in Parliament continue to maintain pressure on President Jacob Zuma following last week’s failed impeachment vote

OPPOSITION parties in Parliament continue to maintain pressure on President Jacob Zuma following last week’s failed impeachment vote in the National Assembly with calls for further investigations into the president’s conduct and the referral of MPs behaviour to the ethics committee.

However, attempts to take the matter further in parliamentary structures needs some dexterous footwork and possible bargaining with the ruling party, as the African National Congress (ANC) caucus continues to rally around Mr Zuma.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa has written to Speaker Baleka Mbete calling for a disciplinary inquiry to be set up to probe whether or not Mr Zuma misled Parliament over the spending of R246m at his Nkandla home. He has asked Ms Mbete to allow three retired judges to run the inquiry because the voting record of the assembly on Nkandla matter meant that no ANC MP could run a fair inquiry.

Mr Holomisa, said on Friday he expected that Ms Mbete and the ANC would try to buy time before responding to his letter but he planned to discuss the matter in Parliament’s chief whips forum at some stage. "They are panicking because they thought the impeachment vote would be the end of the Nkandla saga and this has not happened," he said.

Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen has lodged a complaint against Ms Mbete and the entire ANC caucus which last year adopted a resolution absolving Mr Mr Zuma of liability in the Nkandla matter. He has asked the ethics committee to probe whether Ms Mbete and ANC MPs breached their code of conduct in their handling of the Nkandla matter.

"During the course of the Nkandla debacle we have witnessed a series of ANC caucus members try bend themselves, parliamentary procedure, and even the law backwards to absolve President Zuma of accountability. The ANC caucus must be held accountable for the complacency in this maniacal miscarriage of justice, and the DA will do everything in our power to ensure that they are," Mr Steenhuisen said.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said it was expected that the DA would seek to make maximum political capital out of the Constitutional Court judgment "even through absurd publicity stunts, some of which not only border on self-parody but makes a mockery of serious parliamentary committees".

"The party’s latest stunt totally makes no sense and is unworthy of the ethics committee’s time," said Mr Mthembu.

Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution executive secretary Lawson Naidoo said that any attempt to use parliamentary structures to take the Nkandla matter further would run into the same problem — the ANC majority.

"There is also a problem with the appointment of judges to run a parliamentary probe to hold the president to account because it would infringe the separation of powers by asking judges to do the work of Parliament," Mr Naidoo said.

He said it was unlikely Ms Mbete would agree and if it did get to the National Assembly the ANC would vote against such an inquiry and the ANC majority in the ethics committee would be unlikely to allow an inquiry into their MPs.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Mulder also weighed in by lodging a complaint against the Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, and the Minister of Public Works Thulas Nxesi, with the public protector as well as the ethics committee for misleading Parliament.

"The report the ministers had compiled on Nkandla found that all the upgrades at Nkandla had been security upgrades and that the president does not have to pay back any money. During the court case in the Constitutional Court, president Zuma offered to pay an amount for the upgrades at Nkandla.

"The only conclusion that can be made from this is that the relevant ministers had calculatingly misled parliament by finding that all upgrades were security upgrades, for which the president did not have to pay," Mr Mulder said.

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