Nkandla committee at odds over mandate

Cape Town - Opposition parties on Friday refused to elect the chair of the new parliamentary committee on the Nkandla controversy until its mandate had been clarified, to ensure the public protector's report is not sidelined.

Democratic Alliance MP James Selfe said the opposition agreed beforehand to argue that "at the heart of it is the public protector's report and we need to be absolutely certain that all relevant documentation will be consulted".

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema made plain the opposition feared that the ruling party could not be trusted to uphold Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's findings.

Instead, he said after the meeting, it (the African National Congress) would want President Jacob Zuma's bitterly contested submission to Parliament on Nkandla - in which he declined to comment on her report - to be accepted as the last word on the controversy that had haunted him for years.

"I know exactly what the ANC is going to do. They are going to come here and accept the president's report as an accurate reflection of what happened and say the matter is closed."


The ANC reluctantly conceded that the first meeting of the committee be adjourned, but afterwards appeared at odds with the opposition as to what would happen next.

According to DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, it was understood that the terms of reference of the committee would be referred back to the National Assembly to be elaborated.

But Cedric Frolick, the ANC's nominee for chairperson, said there was no need to do this.

"It simply requires further discussion but the secretary will be called and the Speaker will be called in to discuss it. I have stated the view of the ANC, as far as the proposal is concerned there is definitely a trust deficit and that can be dealt with without taking it back to the National Assembly."

The issue caused heated debate in the chamber earlier this month when the DA argued unsuccessfully that the terms of reference of the committee were too vague and had to be redrafted.

A motion to this effect was voted down by the ANC, with chief whip Stone Sizani saying the opposition should accept assurances that the committee would consider all relevant documents.