Friday, March 15, 2013

Nkandla report to come before MPs, but behind closed doors

THE controversial report on the R206m security upgrade on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence is likely to be dealt with behind closed doors and not in a public forum.

This follows a letter from Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi to National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu that he would table the report in Parliament. Opposition parties have been clamouring for the report on the public works investigation into the security upgrade to be made public.

Earlier, Mr Nxesi announced that the investigation had found supply chain irregularities and overcharging in the work done on Mr Zuma’s home.

African National Congress chief whip in the National Assembly Mathole Motshekga said on Thursday that "the minister’s decision to subject the report to parliamentary scrutiny is demonstrative of his commendable respect for the authority of Parliament.

"The decision is also reflective of the seriousness with which the minister regards his obligations in relation to parliamentary accountability and oversight.

"We fully agree with the view that, in light of the sensitive nature of the report, a special parliamentary mechanism should be created to ensure that Parliament deals with the report without compromising the security of the head of state," Mr Motshekga said. "We will therefore prefer the report of the Department of Public Works task team be dealt with by a special committee and in camera."

Democratic Alliance (DA) public works spokeswoman Anchen Dreyer welcomed Mr Nxesi’s decision to table the report after the DA’s repeated calls for the report to be released.

"The DA has also tirelessly pushed for a debate on the Nkandla scandal to be held as soon as possible so that the people’s representatives can shine a light on this inexcusable abuse of public funds. This shows the DA’s relentless efforts have borne fruit."

Ms Dreyer said the DA would push for Mr Nxesi to table the full, unexpurgated report with no omissions or deletions, and when the report came before the committee, that the committee be open and that members of the public be able to attend.

She said the full report would need to be debated in the National Assembly after it had been scrutinised by the committee and there needed to be an undertaking by the minister that action would be taken against all those implicated in any wrongdoing.

"So long as the spending of R206m on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence in Nkandla is concealed under the dark cloud of secrecy, Nkandla will forever remain a symbol of government corruption under the presidency of Mr Zuma," she said.

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