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'Zuma shouldn't be penalised for Nkandla scandal'

Mathole Motshekga is one of six ANC MPs sitting on the Nkandla ad-hoc committee.

ANC MP Mathole Motshekga. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament (MP) Mathole Motshekga has told Parliament's Nkandla ad-hoc committee that President Jacob Zuma shouldn't be penalised for the upgrade scandal at his home.

He is one of six ANC MPs sitting on the committee tasked with looking into the almost quarter of a billion rand project.

There are no opposition MPs participating in the committee after they withdrew from the process last week.

MPs walked out of a meeting last week after wrangling over whether witnesses could be called and whether Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's recommendations should be enforced.

Madonsela recommended that Zuma pay back a portion of the money spent on the upgrades.

In her report released in March, Madonsela found that Zuma "benefitted unduly" from some of the upgrades, which included a cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, and should pay back some of the costs of the unnecessary renovations.

Motshekga says the president shouldn't be penalised.

"The omissions or commissions of the officials, which enhanced security upgrades without the knowledge and consent of the president should not and cannot be translated into an offence or a transgression by the president."

His ANC colleague Doris Dlakude says Zuma didn't misuse taxpayers' money.

"It isn't wrong that there were security upgrade needs at the president's house."

At the same time, the disciplinary hearing into the conduct of 12 public servants who misspent government money on Zuma's Nkandla home will now be open to the public.

An application to have the hearings open to the media succeeded this afternoon.

The Public Servants Association's Claude Naicker, who represents the officials, says his clients would have preferred a closed meeting.

"Our employees mandate was that they didn't want to get involved with the media and that we should oppose this application. It's a private issue between the employer and employee."

The hearings are due to resume tomorrow.