South Africa’s ruling party delayed parliamentary hearings into allegations that President Jacob Zuma unduly benefited from a state funded 215 million rand ($20 million) home upgrade until after May 7 elections in a bid to contain the fallout of the scandal.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said in a March 19 report that Zuma failed to safeguard public resources utilized in the renovation of his home at Nkandla in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal Province and recommended he repay some of the money. On April 9, Parliamentary Speaker Max Sisulu established a panel comprising seven lawmakers from the ruling African National Congress and five from the opposition, to consider the matter and report back to Parliament by April 30.
“We are of the view that we should give this responsibility” to the next parliament, ANC lawmaker Buti Manamela said at a hearing in Cape Town today. “We do not think it is reasonable for this parliament to do justice to this work.”
While the ANC wanted answers about the Nkandla project, it would be impossible to call and interrogate witnesses and properly evaluate evidence before the current Parliament lapsed, Manamela said.
The ANC used its majority on the committee to push through the delay, which was opposed by opposition parties
“You are shielding President Zuma from scrutiny,” Wilmot James, chief whip for the main opposition Democratic Alliance, said at the hearing. “What is happening here is scandalous.”
Zuma, who is seeking a second term, has denied any wrongdoing. In an April 3 letter to Sisulu, the president said Madonsela and a ministerial team that investigated the project had “starkly” different findings. He also pledged to make a final report to Parliament once state investigators complete another probe.
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