DA opposed to ‘Nkandlagate' report being tabled behind closed doors
I have received a letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu informing me that the Public Works Task Team Report into the upgrade of President Zuma's private home in Nkandla will be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, and that the Speaker has written to the Minister of Public Works, Thulas Nxesi, and requested that he proceed with submitting the report.
This means that the report will be referred to a committee which will meet behind closed doors, and members of the committee will not be able to share the contents of this report with the public. The DA is strongly opposed to this decision, which will essentially bury the information in the report and will prevent those at the very top from being held accountable.
According to the Speaker's letter, a legal opinion was received which supports the referral of the report to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, and that the committee then determine which components of the report can be referred to the appropriate portfolio committee.
Given that the details of the report relate to a National Key Point, there is a risk that almost all the information will be kept secret in the committee. Since the Speaker has passed the buck to the Intelligence Committee, it will be their discretion as to what is made public. With Chairperson Cecil Burgess at the helm, this is ominous.
We maintain that this report should be referred to the portfolio committees concerned, namely Public Works, Defence and Police, where they should be scrutinised in public. The details of the report, which relate largely to cost inflation at President Zuma's private home, cannot be considered sensitive information. It is also worth noting that the details of the upgrade have largely been made public in the media.
I will write to the Speaker to request that he reconsider this decision and make public the legal opinion on which he is basing this decision.
Should this not happen, we will consider the process to be fundamentally flawed and a backdoor mechanism to hide the contents of this report from South Africans in order to protect President Jacob Zuma from being held to account.
Nkandlagate must now be brought into the open so that all those implicated, including those at the very top, are made to answer for this flagrant abuse of state resources.
Letter from Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, Leader of the Official Opposition, May 7 2013
Dear Hon Mazibuko
CONSIDERATION OF REPORT ON THE SECURITY UPGRADE AT THE PRIVATE RESIDENCE OF THE PRESIDENT
Your letter concerning the establishment of a special committee to consider a Report on the Security Upgrade of the Private Residence of the President of the Republic refers. The Minister had asked for identification of an appropriate mechanism to consider the Report owing to the Confidentiality of its contents, including the fact that it deals with matters that pertain to a national key point.
I have received legal advice that certain aspects of the Report may fall within the purview of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act, 1994 (Act 40 of 1994), While others may not. For this reason, the Report will be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence to consider and report to the House on those aspects that fall within the purview of the Act.
The Committee will be required to bring to the attention of the House those aspects that it is not empowered to deal with in terms of statute, for them to be referred to an appropriate committee.
I have written to the Minister asking him to proceed and submit the Report. AS soon as the Report is submitted, it Will be tabled and referred accordingly.
Signed: Max Sisulu
M V Sisulu MP
Speaker of the National Assembly
Statement issued by Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, May 13 2013
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