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Standoff over Nkandla ad-hoc committee's mandate

The committee's first meeting adjourned today after just 30 minutes, without electing a chairperson.

President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead. Picture: City Press.

CAPE TOWN - There appears to be a standoff over the mandate of the Parliamentary ad-hoc committee dealing with the Nkandla scandal.

The committee's first meeting adjourned today after just 30 minutes, without electing a chairperson.

The multi-party committee has 11 members - six from the African National Congress (ANC), two from the Democratic Alliance (DA), one from the Economic Freedom Fighters and two representing the other parties.

An earlier committee was disbanded ahead of the May elections.

The five opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on the committee are insisting they first want the mandate spelled out before it can begin its work.

Opposition parties seem to have won the first round in the battle over the mandate of Parliament's ad-hoc committee on Nkandla.

ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani promised in Parliament that the committee's mandate would be broad but the DA's James Selfe says that's not enough.

"We do not trust the chief whip. An undertaking was given in Parliament but that is just the word of the chief whip. This needs to be written into the word of the ad-hoc committee."

But the ANC isn't happy.

MP Cedrick Frolick says, "Not at all, I think it was important for the work of the committee to commence."

Frolick says President Jacob Zuma's response and all other reports on Nkandla will be considered when the committee gets to work.

The committee will have before it Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's report, which found that the president breached the executive code of ethics and recommended he repay some of the nearly R250 million spent.

It will also have the report by the government's task team, which exonerated Zuma, the Special Investigating Unit's provisional report and Zuma's response to Parliament submitted earlier this month.

The ad-hoc committee has until 24 October to report back to Parliament.