CAPE TOWN, Sept 26 — Opposition parties in the South African Parliament Ad hoc Committee considering a report on expenditure into upgrades for a private residence of President Jacob Zuma in Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal Province, are adamant that he should appear before the committee to account for some of the upgrades.
However, the committee members from the ruling African National Congress (ANC) say such calls are premature.
The ad hoc committee’s marathon meeting is considering reports on the 246 million Rand (about 22 million US dollars) security upgrades to the residential complex. They include the report of Public Protector (Ombudsman) Thuli Madonsela which which found that President Zuma unduly benefitted from the non-security upgrades at his private residence.
Opposition parties in the committee want Zuma to appear before it to answer questions. “The President was aware all the way along of the security upgrades, he was aware of the costs; he did nothing to stop them in that respect. He failed the country in his duties as head of state,” says Demicratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament James Selfe.
“The Public Protector put 29 questions to the president, and then you go and read the president’s replies to these. With all due respect to the Honourable President, he ignored the majority of those questions as if they didn’t exist,” said DA leader Corne Mulder.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has also voiced its concerns. “We cannot allow institutions of state to be reduced to nothing in defence of an individual,” says the EFF leader Julius Malema.
ANC MPs have jumped to the defence of the president, asking for proof that the president was aware of everything happening at his home.
“We know that the president in the house said that he and his family built their own house. In terms of security upgrades, that is another issue, and that is where corruption and looting took place. Those who were supposed to monitor and do oversight on this project did nothing,” said ANC Chief Whip Doris Dlakude.