The Committee met to continue its work, with only its ANC members present. Three letters to the Committee were read out. These were from the Public Members Unit Team (PMUT), the Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality Before the Law and the Public Protector. The Committee had expected the first draft of the Committee Report but the content advisors requested an extension as additional time was needed to go through the transcripts of all previous meetings of the Committee in order to compile a comprehensive report.
The draft report had to consider all the complexities that have emerged since the beginning of the Committee, especially focusing on the commonalities and differences between the Public Protector and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Reports. Another complexity was deciding on which statutory framework and legal measures guided the Nkandla upgrades and their costing. The Chairperson recommended that the content advisors ensure their arguments were backed up by existing legislation as the Committee was mandated to come up with clear recommendations to be followed by Parliament. The content advisors indicated that the transcripts for each of the previous meetings had been requested in order to thoroughly capture the key issues discussed by the Members. The content advisors said that the first draft of the Committee Report would be ready by 16 October 2014 for deliberations and recommendations.
The Members agreed that the three letters send by supporters of the President and by the Public Protector need only be noted and not discussed as they were not part of its mandate. They suggested that the content advisors be given enough time to complete the first draft of the Committee Report as they were still busy with another report. The Members raised a concern that the delay would likely affect the 24 October 2014 deadline for the submission of the final report to the National Assembly. The Chairperson assured Members he would discuss a possible extension of the Committee deadline with the ANC Chief Whip. Members emphasised that the report needed to be backed up by existing legislation to ensure proper recommendations. The date of the next meeting would be determined after consultation with the content advisors as the readiness of the first draft of the report would be the key determinant for such a decision. Members agreed that it was not procedural for the Public Protector to engage further with the Members on Nkandla Report unless the Committee decided otherwise.
Agenda and Correspondence
The Chairperson welcomed those present to the meeting and indicated that there was an apology from Ms L Maseko (ANC). The purpose of the meeting was to receive a first draft Committee Report from the content advisors about the security upgrades at the Nkandla private residence of the President.
The Chairperson requested that Members adopt the Agenda of 9 October 2014
Ms M Kubayi (ANC) moved for the adoption of the Agenda and Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) seconded.
The Agenda was adopted as is.
The Committee then considered three letters that had been forwarded to the Chairperson.
Mr Skhumbuzo Tshabalala, Committee Section Manager, read out the first letter from a group calling itself the Public Members Unit Team (PMUT) which stated: The issue of the escalation of cost in the Nkandla upgrade humiliated the President of the Republic of South Africa. Once the Public Protector finalises every report that is required, PMUT would offer to pay whatever money it is decided President Zuma owes.
Ms Kubayi stated that the Committee could only note the letter from PMUT but should not discuss it.
Mr Tshabalala read out the second letter from a group calling itself the Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality Before the Law which stated that it was concerned with the manner in which the Public Protector handled the Nkandla Report, as it contained procedural flaws in law and was full of inconsistencies, contradictions and errors. The group expressed concern that the Public Protector released the Nkandla Report to the media before it had reached Parliament. The group challenged the Nkandla Report on the grounds of legality and lack of rationality. It requested that an investigation needed to be undertaken and proper corrective measures should be taken to remove the Public Protector from office.
The Chairperson resolved that the complaint must be referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services as the group was laying a complaint against the Public Protector.
Ms D Dlakude (ANC) agreed that the letter needed to be referred to the relevant Committee as the Members were not mandated to deal with issues raised by the public.
Mr Tshabalala read out the third letter from the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela. In it, she asked Parliament debate the matter in the National Assembly. She stated that she was ready to address the Committee on the Nkandla Report.
Ms Kubayi said it was not procedural for the Public Protector to engage further with the Members on the Nkandla Report unless the Committee decided otherwise.
Mr M Motshekga (ANC) indicated that for the Public Protector to come here and debate her Nkandla Report would be construed as interference in the parliamentary process.
The Chairperson requested the content advisors present the first draft of the report.
Mr Shuaib Denyssen, Committee Content Advisor, told the Members that the committee report needed to be written in a meticulous manner as it should reflect accurately on what took place at the previous meetings. The report also needed to consider all the complexities that have emerged since the beginning of the Committee. Currently, the drafting team was still busy with the report and therefore was not ready to make a presentation to the Committee as it still needed the transcripts of each of the previous meetings. The transcripts had been requested in order to thoroughly capture the key issues that were discussed by the Members.
Mr Denyssen added that the report on the commonalities and differences between the reports of the Public Protector and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) needed further consideration as there are issues that are still not covered in a comprehensive manner. There was a request for an extension to complete the first draft of the Committee Report.
The Chairperson wanted an exact date for the extension request as the Committee was mandated to report to the National Assembly by 24 October 2014. The report needed to be explicit about its arguments and backed up by existing legislation. The Committee was mandated to come up with clear recommendations that needed to be followed.
Mr Denyssen responded that the draft report should be ready by 16 October 2014 for deliberations and recommendations.
Mr Motshekga added that the content advisors were not unreasonably delayed as they were dealing with more than one report. They should be given an adequate amount of time.
Ms Ngcobo said the delay in the completion of the draft report was likely to affect the deadline for the submission of the final report to the National Assembly. She agreed that the report needed to be backed up by existing legislation so as make proper recommendations.
Ms Dlakude reiterated that the content advisors needed to be given enough time to complete the draft report as there are still busy with other reports and Parliament was also going to have to deal with the Budget Review and Recommendations Reports (BRRR). The report needed to spend much time on the commonalities and differences between the reports of the Public Protector and the SIU.
The Chairperson said apart from the commonalities and differences between the reports of the Public Protector and the SIU, the draft report should also focus on existing gaps in the reports.
Mr F Beukman (ANC) added that most of the Members needed to submit their BRRR by 24 October and this should be taken into consideration in planning for the next meeting.
The Chairperson indicated to Members that he would discuss the possible extension of the Committee’s deadline with ANC Chief Whip, Mr Stone Sizani. Whatever conclusion is reached by the Committee, it must answer the basic resolution that was passed in the House and also consider the report that was submitted by the President to Parliament regarding the Nkandla Upgrade. The date of the next meeting would be determined after consultation with the content advisors, as the draft report would be the key determinant for such decision.
The meeting was adjourned.
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